Determining what electronic devices your children are old enough to have and what kinds of apps and sites they should be able to access can be difficult decisions for any parent. However, if you’re a divorced parent sharing custody, you may also have to deal with a co-parent who is either more lenient or restrictive than you. What can you do to help protect your child while avoiding conflicts with your ex?
If the two of you can agree on at least some things, like whether your child is old enough for a smartphone and whether there should be parental controls on their internet access, that’s a start. However, what if you can’t agree on anything?
If you’re the one who wants more restrictions than your co-parent, explain your reasoning. If they see that it’s because you’re concerned about your child’s safety, what images they’re exposed to, and their self-esteem, for example, they’re less likely to see what you’re doing as a power play.
Focus on what you can control
If you and your co-parent can’t agree on restrictions, then focus on what you’ll allow in your home. Unless your ex is allowing your child to look at porn, gamble online or do something else that’s a danger to their safety or well-being, that’s really all you can do. While it’s best if kids can have consistency across homes, they can also learn to follow two sets of rules.
That means you have every right to take your child’s phone, iPad or other devices while they’re with you if you don’t believe they should be using them. Just be sure that you’re still allowing them to communicate with their other parent while they’re with you.
If you’re still working out your parenting plan, you may want to include some provisions regarding technology if your child is approaching or already at the age where they have some access. This can give you a chance to communicate about the issue before it gets to be a battle across homes. If you already have a parenting plan but you believe this is an area that warrants some additions, you can seek to modify your plan. It’s wise to have some legal guidance as you do this.