The dos and don’ts of family communication



Whether your child is glued to their phone during dinner, you’re checking work emails after hours or you’re just not getting enough sleep because you can’t switch off at bedtime, most of us have digital habits that can lead tension and rows. Calm communication and setting clear boundaries will help avoid frustrating family arguments. Here are some dos and don’ts about how to approach these conversations to help ensure a healthy and happy home life.

Do… be a team

Everyone prefers a democracy to a dictatorship. Discussing and agreeing your family’s rules around digital with your child will help them remember, enforce and respect what you agree on.

Don’t… use their device against them

If they do break the rules, punishment by simply confiscating or banning devices can often do more harm than good. Try old fashioned time-outs or getting them to do chores instead.

Do… be consistent

If you’ve decided not to allow phones at the table or in bedrooms, make sure you stick with that decision. If it doesn’t seem to be working, make a point of changing the rule or making an exception in certain circumstances.

Don’t… forget the rest of the family

If you are enforcing screen time boundaries, try to make sure everyone in the family supports you. Parents need to lead by example in order to teach the children when they should and shouldn’t be using their devices.

Do… notice the positives

Telling them when they do something good (like turning off their device without being asked) is just as important as telling them when they’ve done something wrong.

Don’t… forget their right to privacy

Remember you don’t have an automatic right to see every text message, or to be that parent who posts every picture of them on their own social feeds (i.e. an ‘oversharent’!).

Do… enjoy their knowledge

Ask your child to show you how to do something online. Working through problems together will foster a great relationship.

Don’t… assume they know everything

People often think children are digital experts just because they can pick up and use a number of devices like it’s second nature. But they still need your help to check safety settings on the devices and platforms, so make sure you’re there to help.

Do… stay calm

When something goes wrong it’s tempting to go into overdrive, especially if they’ve broken one of your rules. This is where you need to pause, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation: if you overreact, they are less likely to come to you next time. Instead, make sure you let the child know what they’ve done wrong in a calm manner, and what they should do next time.

Read more about children’s online rights here.


This article is by Parent Zone, the experts in digital life.