High-tech troubles and your parenting plan: What to consider

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Parenting is tough, and co-parenting with your ex-spouse can be even tougher – but the digital age has added a whole lot of new wrinkles that people now have to navigate.

One of the biggest issues parents sometimes squabble about is the use of electronics by the kids, particularly when one parent has a fairly liberal attitude toward electronics and one does not.

Even if you and your co-parent are mostly in agreement about the value (or lack of value) that electronics have, it helps to have a technology management clause in your co-parenting plan.

What needs to be discussed when it comes to technology and the kids?

Ideally, you and your co-parent will be able to work together to establish consistent rules for both your households. Some things that are essential to address include:

  • Time limits: How long can a child stay glued to a game system, television or computer before they have to take a break?
  • Games: Speaking of gaming devices, what types of games is your child allowed to play? Are you okay with first-person shooter games? Do you want the kids restricted to E-level games until they’re teenagers?
  • Mass media: Do you need to set up “child-friendly” access points for your streaming services? What about parental controls that will block certain kinds of content on YouTube and websites?
  • Social media: When should your children be allowed their own social media accounts? Is it okay for your nine-year-old to have TikTok, for example? What safety measures do you and your co-parent want to take to protect your kids from online predators?
  • Phone access: This can get tricky. On the one hand, the sooner your children have their own phones, the easier it is for them to stay in contact during emergencies, but what sort of limits do you want to establish? Who will pay for the plan? Can either parent take the phone away as punishment, or does it have to be a mutual decision?

Developing a workable parenting plan (complete with technology management) isn’t always easy. That’s why getting some experienced legal guidance can be wise.


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