Establishing appropriate boundaries related to the use of technology is a struggle in most parenting situations. It can be particularly challenging when you share custody of your children.
Developmental experts are quick to point out that inconsistently-reinforced boundaries are very difficult to maintain. In other words, if your children don’t always have the same limits on their use of technology, they will have a hard time internalizing and following your rules.
It will be easiest for your whole family if you and your ex agree with one another about a few important decisions regarding your children’s use of technology.
How much screen time they can have
The amount of screen time that is appropriate for a child will vary depending on their age and overall maturity level. For very young children, very little or no screen time is the best arrangement, although teenagers could have several hours of screen time without it having a negative impact on their mental development. Establishing appropriate limits for how long your children can use computers or watch television at young ages will help you maintain consistent expectations across households.
What websites and apps they can use
Social media use is very popular among teenagers and even among school-age children who are technically too young according to the user agreements created by many social media companies. Not all of these platforms have the same uses and safety concerns. You and the other parent need to discuss how you feel about different programs. You may feel comfortable with them sharing pictures on specific apps but not videos on other apps, for example.
What actions result in technology consequences
If one parent tries to punish the children by limiting their screen use or taking away a device, the other parent could quickly undermine the lesson they want to teach. Of course, parents sometimes disagree about when it is appropriate to take away a child’s primary form of social communication and entertainment. Having specific rules for when either parent can decide to take a device away from the children could diffuse major arguments before they ever occur.
Thinking about and addressing issues that can cause conflict in a shared custody arrangement can help you negotiate a more effective parenting plan for your family.