How can I get my kids to put down their phones?

As annoying as constant texting is, it's a normal part of life for many kids. Staying in touch with friends is important to tweens and teens. When we parents were teens, we talked for hours on the phone! Now the same kind of contact happens through texting. 

However, if cell phone use is getting in the way of family time, homework, and other responsibilities, it might be time to help your kid manage his or her phone time.

Help kids find space for face-to-face conversations. Put phones down during key conversation times such as dinner or car rides.

Model the manners and behavior you want to see. Avoid texting in the car. Consider narrating your phone use ("I'm looking up directions to the party") so young kids understand the utility of the device. Make sure to excuse yourself if you have to interrupt a family moment to attend to your phone.

Charge kids' phones in your room at night. Removing their phones can give kids a needed break.

Establish consequences for problematic phone use. If your kids are having trouble putting the phone away when you ask or are engaging in other problematic phone-related behavior, consider instituting temporary time or location limits. Some wireless carriers offer parental controls that let you set daily phone-use limits, and some apps can disable your kid's phone when he or she hits a limit.

What's your strategy for getting your kids to put down their phones?

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Teen, 15 years old written by mylife573

I think you should give your child a reason to spend time with you instead of on their phone. The internet contrary to popular belief, is actually not very judgmental which is why kids love using it. It's a free space to explore their interest and express their opinions without judgement. If you want to spend more time with your kids, become free of judgement. My parents insult my weight, my looks, my friends, my interests, etc. Then they complain that I never spend time with them. Well obviously. Also establish some basic rules that the WHOLE FAMILY has to follow. NOT JUST YOUR KID. No one can bring their phone to dinner, no one can use their phone during family game night, etc. But make sure you follow it too. Also, never say "will you please just get off your phone?" it makes your kid even more defensive and angry, and much less likely to spend time with you. Establish that you genuinely want to be with them because you love them, not just to get them off their phone.
Kid, 12 years old

I have trouble putting down my phone because I am afraid that my parents are going to look at my texts, browser history, etc. (I am not looking at nudity/pornography, drugs, or anything illeagal, I just do not want them invading my privacy) and my parents think that I am addicted, when that’s far from the truth. What should I do? They are starting to seriously limit my time on my phone/computer because they think that it’s at the point where my phone is becoming a problem. I try to explain, but they always cut me off and say that I’m addicted. This is really disappointing. What should I do?
Kid, 12 years old

Here are some things you can do 1) Have established rules. Like no phones during meals, or during night time. Have them put their phone on the kitchen table at night time (before bed time) 2) Don’t tell them to put their phone all the time. It will make them mad and complain. Just leave them to their phone and then after a while (45 mins or less), distract them with another activity
Kid, 12 years old

Have some rules. Like these: - No phones during meals with family - During family nights, no phones - Phones downstairs after a certain time at night (1-2 hours before bedtime)
Adult written by itaibs21

I had a phone issue with my 5 year old child. He often took my wifes phone or his phone, played with it and wouldn't let go. Eventually, we just took his phone from him, and it made him angry and cry. So we installed the app "offThePhone", and whenever it was time to eat, or go to bed, we locked the phone with the message "time to sleep/eat". His response was great. He just put down the phone, go to us and tell us it is now his time for bed/eat. I would recommend this as it saved us alot of arguing with him, and it really helped us controlling his phone time.
Teen, 15 years old written by mylife573

Why does your 5 year old child have access to a phone in the first place? Encourage reading books and playing board games. I love game time with my parents when I was young and miss it to this day. They will learn skills and get better at what they do. Also, start a new family activity where they can join in. Maybe start teaching them how to cook, which is a great life skill, and let them find enjoyment in spending time with you.
Teen, 14 years old written by Chloe04

1) A valid reason will easily get me to put my phone away. There should be something a kid is interested in apart from their phones so get that to try to distract them. (needs to be something that requires attention for a longer period of time, say a dog). 2) Don't always tell them to put down their phones. It will get irritating and seem unreasonable to your kids after a while. They'll start to think how unfair it is that they "never get any phone time". Just leave them to it for a while, then come back in perhaps after 30 minutes 3) Set an agreed time beforehand if possible. Your kid will feel that it is fair to stop when appropriate.
Teen, 13 years old written by mxlky

I got a phone when I was 6, but it was an early model and all I could do was play games like angry birds. I have one now and only draw,animate and watch YouTube and Netflix on it (and it's a model from 2014). It really depends on how old and mature your child is. Think about what a good limit is depending on the child's age. Like for example, 2 hours. Simple rules that I've had are not at meals, not during family time and no electronics in your room and after 11pm . Simple things like that are obvious and are really easy to enforce.
Adult written by Daniel K

Obviously there's no phones at dinner. Phones and tablets charge on the kitchen counter. We also forbid phones when we are going to grandpas or a family cookout. They are left at home. Outside of that, I do look at our teen and say "Take a break. Put it down" when I've noticed he's on it for 3 hours. Or I say "Charge time is a good break time." In worst case scenarios, its "Go outside. Without the phone."
Teen, 13 years old written by plox

My parents were smart about giving phones to my brother and me. They told us what the data plan was, then said that if we went over the limit, we would have to pay the extra money!
Teen, 14 years old written by Bluebanannaball

I think that it is ridiculous for parents to be worried over this. As a kid myself, as long as I wasn't interfering with family time, it was okay. And it provides no benefit to keep phones away during the night, as it will only encourage them to sneak onto devices rather then just being on the phone for a little amount of time. My parents always would turn off the wifi, and that it a good alternative.
Teen, 15 years old written by mylife573

Thank you for being one of the only parents who has actually listened to the children on here. We really appreciate being listened to.
Parent written by Lavay M.

I've recently begun charging my 14 year old son's phone in my bedroom at night and it has made a difference in how much rest he is getting at night!
Adult written by Sydney C.

Set limits and track how much it happens. "Don't text at the dinner table" or "don't text untill your homework is done" are also good rules.
Kid, 11 years old

I don't text very much. When I got my phone me and my family were nervous that I would get very addicted, but luckily I didn't. Maybe enforce phone rules like no games because then your kid hopefully won't get as addicted to their phone in-general, that will help.
Parent written by Susan M.

During dinner, technology is off. We go around the table and everyone shares one good thing that happen that day, one bad thing that happen that day, and one wish that we have. Everyone gets to share as much or as little as they choose and gets uninterrupted time. How sad if screens messed up that opportunity! After dinner, devices can go back on, if homework is done. Google really has make life easier tho. Its now not, "go ask you mother"..."or go ask your father"...when we don't have an answer...its "go ask Google and let me know what it said". Ha, ha!! Now explain to kids what fake news is:) Times are indeed changing!
Kid, 11 years old

I bearly ever text only bc I don't like to text a lot so I recommend kids don't text all the time!
Teen, 15 years old written by EvanL115

Is it wrong that your kids are socializing with their friends? If it's during a family dinner then that's when it's a problem. My dad told me that things have changed a lot since he was a kid. He used to be allowed to walk to his friends house whenever he wanted without permission. Today, parents are always worried when kids travel. Maybe parents are busy and can't drop their kid off at their friends house. So how are they going to communicate? Texting is a great way to stay in touch with your friends and talk about life, when they aren't around.
Teen, 13 years old written by CloroxBleach

Who cares! They are just being social. Don't take their phone away from them because they are gonna get worse!!!
Kid, 12 years old

Give her more fun things to do like camp, sports, sports, etc. Since i started dance i don't text nearly as much.
Teen, 15 years old written by Teengirl

Make limits tell her she has a certain amount of time and when she goes over you will take it away. And also sign her up for more after school activities to keep her busy and off her phone.
Parent written by kate j.

I don't think force is the way to go. Using force can make your children hate you. I personally think you should just take away her charger. It sounds stupid, but as long as you make sure she doesn't charge her phone at school and she thinks she lost it, it works 100%. Instead of constantly stressing everyone including yourself by telling your daughter to stop, she will use it less and less and focus on other things. And not to point out the others or anything, but setting time limits will cause your children to get grumpy and mad. They will come to the dinner table quiet and unparticipating.
Teen, 15 years old written by nog642

Try to catch their interest with something else in real life. Also make sure you're not on your phone all the time, set an example.
Kid, 12 years old

My parents actually made me sign a contract before I got the phone. I have to have it plugged in downstairs in the living room by a certain time and I don't get that many apps. You could try and make it a contest. I don't know if apps exist, but you might find one that has a stopwatch on how much you use the phone, but it would be fun for the whole family with phones to get it and then have a contest like whoever spends the least amount of time on the phone wins a piece of candy or something.
Parent of a 12, 14, and 15 year old written by Richard M.

@ktmcsz: Some of us parents are not constantly on our phones, yet we have kids that are.
Parent of a 14, 15, and 18+ year old written by Cindy C.

Exactly! I think the same thing! I know why they say it because some parents are just as addicted to their phones as the teens are. But in many cases I think parents could care less about their phone and are setting good examples, but their teens may still have an addiction. It's easier to get addicted to something when you're not busy or bored.
Adult written by MamitadeTian

I was also hoping (like LinVA) that you would have a review of a list of apps that could help set time limits. I have been using Circle Go for wifi use in our home with good results, but now that my kids will have phones, I would love your opinion on the options out there.
Parent of a 10 and 11 year old written by Beth S.

We use an app called Dinner Time Plus. It allows parents to set time limits on app including games. It also has the ability to set times where the phone only works with certain apps (you as a parent tell it what they can use) like for homework time, dinner time and bedtime. Our kids have access to phone calls and texts at all times but starting at 10 pm those are the only things they can do until 6:30 am. That way if there is an emergency over night they can still use their phones. All other games and social media apps are turned off at that time. We also use the app when we have a discipline issue and we can turn off everything except phone and text. They kids then have to earn their apps back. We have been super happy with the app because it gives them the freedom to use their phones and we can see how long they spend on something and if it becomes obsessive we know it's time to get their phones and check!
Adult written by Viktor Y.

I use an app platform called - it works great on iOS and android. helps me manage kids screen time. check it out!
Adult written by ktmcsz

You would like your child to put down his or her phone? 1. Put yours down. Children watch and learn, they do not listen and learn. Ever heard: actions speak louder than words? THEY DO.
Teen, 17 years old written by Zane 1

My parents are on there phones more than me. Though I have few friends that I care to text. I would suggest that you limit your child data usage. It should be an option through your provider.