Limit for Kids on iPhones

Updated on February 19, 2013
F.H. asks from Gilbert, AZ
10 answers

We just switched from T Mobile to Verizon and got free phones for 4 of us. Our kids are 10 and 13 and had pay per minute phones before this but used them very little because they ended up being so expensive. We got them the phones now because my daughter is in Jr High and we have ran into several instances that we needed to reach her and they both go to their dads every other weekend and he was not allowing them to call us when they wanted.

Of course, they want to be on them every second. They do not have internet access but do have apps they play, phone and texting.

Do you allow them to "play" on them at all while they are home? What are your rules at your house?

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So What Happened?

My kids don't have laptops, ipods/ipads or tv's. The only other "electronic" item they have is a DS and Will, which is in the family room. Verizon offers unlimited minutes/texts and shared data, which is why it needs to be limited so I'm wondering what other families whose kids have iphones do. Thanks.

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answers from Honolulu on

My Hubby has all sorts of "i" gadgets including the iPhone etc.
Thus, it is always laying around the house, and the "family" uses it.
My kids are 6 and 10.
But they do not go crazy using it or using it too much nor get carried away with it. I think because it is not a forbidden fruit to them. It is just another gadget like, the toaster.
And they are also not sneaky about it. They do not have to be sneaky. Because they know they can tell us, or ask us, permission about it.
They do not overuse it.
Me/my Husband and the kids, have apps/games that we like to play on it.
At home.

For a phone... I know one parent that got her kid only a very simple basic phone. She doesn't even know her own phone number for it. Thus she CANNOT give out her phone number to any ol' dick or jane. And she can only call her parents with it.

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answers from Hartford on

My 12 year old wants an iPhone/smartphone/Android very badly and has been begging me for one. Suddenly, her basic phone is a dinosaur and an embarrassment.

Oh well. It texts, makes and receives calls, and that's all she needs. She gets internet access at home and we have a Wii and she has a DSLite. She has no need for any frills when she's only 12. I don't need the extra data charges.

Her phone only sends and receives during certain hours of the day and she only gets a specific number of minutes per month and a certain number of texts per month. If she uses them up before the month is over then tough luck. The main purpose of the phone is for us to be able to get in contact with her since as a middle schooler she's not home or in our presence nearly as often, and in emergencies it's good for her to have.

That's it. All electronics she has access to have limitations. They're privileges, not a right.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Favorite rule I've heard about that I haven't been able to establish as my 6-year-old child does not yet have a phone :

Dock their phones in your bedroom at night while they recharge. That way, they won't be texting friends all night long. When I talk about it in my classroom, my students go pale as ghosts and fear that I may tell their parents the idea! Some of them text at 3 a.m. Kids need sleep.

Another good rule is no phone at the dinner table for any meal. Period. Everybody. (Candles, flowers, and music help with this!)

For me, I'd start a "no phoning while on hikes outdoors or playing outside unless it is an emergency." People go to enjoy the sounds of nature, and phone conversations interrupt that.

You may want to define emergency with them, as small items seem like emergencies to some people. An emergency should equal the following: the car broke down; my driver is drunk and I want to come home; I'm lost and I need help; I am sick; the dog ran away, can you help me; I'm late, don't worry.

Here are some items that are not emergencies and can wait for another time: Did you hear what so-and-so said about me / you/ us/ another person? Where are the Cheerios? Did you wash my jeans?

I know you know what an emergency is, but somehow our kids feel every question needs to be answered immediately. As a result, they do not know what a true emergency is.

No matter what the rules at school are, I would tell them no phones at school unless it is for approved academic reasons. They can be used as a source of harassment of other kids and can stir "stuff" up and let it keep going for a long time. Another reason is that they can be thought to be cheating on tests with it--or are. Another reason is that kids will use bathroom passes to go to read text messages rather than to go to the bathroom and miss classroom time. Many kids do not internalize how to use the phone appropriately and it is showing at school.

Exceptions: Kids now take pictures of assignments on the whiteboard. They find it useful. Another exception is when teachers ask the kids to use them to look up definitions or other common facts while working on an assignment.

Students need to be trained to use their phones for useful things. And they need to learn phone and texting etiquette. I fear I have seen too many adults modeling poor behaviors with phones; I feel like I'm talking to the wind sometimes.

I plan to teach my child these rules (although we may be able to communicate telepathically in seven years and won't need phones) and tell her that if I find that she cannot use her phone responsibly, she will be without the phone, or perhaps she will be able to use it for a limited amount of time, like one hour a day, or something like that.

Taking the phone away is hard. The phone is glued to the hands of kids at this point. Extracting the phone from them is unlike anything else I've seen--it exceeds taking the car keys away; it exceeds grounding; it exceeds "no rollerskating this weekend." Maybe you can say that they have to use the landline if and when the punishment requires "no phone," so that technically they are not cut off from friends, even though they think that they will be because they no longer can communicate 24/7. Be sure to watch them send a mass email to tell all friends that they will be unable to answer texts until phone priviledges are restored. And they expect to be able to use the phone in total privacy because that is what the cell phone affords to them. But think about it--imagine what the kids can be saying in total privacy and their parents do not know. Parents know so much less about their kids and their kids' friends because of the cell phone. They can have deep and involved relationships without parents knowing--with total strangers on the other side of the world.

Let us know how it works out. I will be crafting a longer list after reading all of the advice from your question!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Our kids don't even have cell phones. But they both have ipods. IF your child had an ipod, what kinds of limits would you place on their usage? Whatever it is, that is what I would put as the limit on the gaming for the iphones. That is really all it is. An ipod that also makes calls/texts.

I would also caution you (if you aren't aware of it already) to turn off "in app purchases" or your kids can run up a huge bill on itunes playing their games. And I am curious about "unlimited" shared data. I didn't think verizon offered that anymore. Or maybe that isn't how you intended that to read (maybe you only meant that the minutes/texts are unlimited). In any case, if you don't have unlimited data, your kids need to be aware of how to use their phone to stream data only when using wi-fi. If they stream movies or stream live gaming stuff, they can run up a lot of data usage quick. And you need to show them how to see how much they have used. It is really simple to do.


As far as limits/rules? We don't have any hard and fast rules, really. We try to teach them to use common sense/common courtesy. And husband and I have final say regardless.

They are not allowed to have any electronics at the dinner table. If we are in a restaurant, it isn't a big deal, unless we are just sitting having conversation--then it would be rude, so they are put away. But if we are dining with another adult couple and lingering and the conversation has drifted into territory where the kids are not involved in it at all, then it is ok for them to have them out to play games (but no earbuds), as long as they stop if they are spoken to.

At home, we don't have any time limits imposed as far as x number of hours per day. They are theirs and they have them as they want. So long as their grades are not suffering at school because of too much digital time, their homework is done, and as long as they still do other things. They go outside and play. They take their fishing poles to the creek at the back of our neighborhood and fish. They ride bikes/scooters/skateboards. They hang out with friends outside. Sometimes hanging out means all 3 or 4 or 5 of them have their devices and play Minecraft together. Usually, they play basketball, or wander around in the woods/neighborhood, climb trees, fish, skateboard/ripstick, etc. They like being outside.
On Sunday, no electronics until daylight is gone. That means, not at church, not in the car, not sitting around the house. Until dark.

Our kids have a lot of electronics, but they are not attached to them like some kids I have seen. They self-regulate themselves pretty well. At this moment, they are playing together on the PS3. I stuck my head in to ask my son when they were taking a break next (he said he set the timer for that game for 15 minutes), and asked them to go take the dog out to play for a while. He was fine with that--no complaining.
I do not take their ipods at night. They charge them on their radio/docks and listen to music to fall asleep to while they charge.

They do know that if they misuse them, they will lose them. At our discretion. Son takes his to school (listens to it on the 40 minute bus ride) and uses it to take notes in some of his classes sometimes or note what his homework assignments are, or a web page that the teacher suggests as a help tool. Daughter doesn't take hers (though we didn't tell her she couldn't). Son is in 9th grade, daughter is middle school.

They have the same "night time" limits as they do with a standard telephone during the week. No texting/face-timing/skyping after 9:00 pm, except on the weekend. Then 11 pm is cutoff time for daughter. Son can have until midnight.

My daughter took a friend with her to a lock-in this weekend. Her friend (unbeknownst to me) brought a tablet with her. She sat and played on her tablet instead of with the group of kids. How sad for her. I was a bit irritated when I heard this (from my son, who also was there), but not surprised. She is one of those kids that her mom makes her the complete center of the universe, and so everything in her daily home life (at least what I have seen the past 3 years) revolves around her and what she likes/wants and makes her happy. She seems unaware that it is ok to not be entertained constantly. That electronics are not necessary everywhere you go. Oh well... she's not my kid.

At our house the kids have laptops, DS lites, ipod touches, Wii, and PS3. Their favorite game is Settlers of Catan-- a board game--not a digital thing. Their next favorites are CatchPhrase, Scattegories and Farkle.
Sure some days I tell my 14 year old, "Hey, you've been on that since you got home--put it up and do something else." Just like when WE were kids and our parents said that about the TV. But it isn't every day or all the time. When it is rainy/cold, he is on it more. Just like I curl up with a book more during those times.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

my daughter has an iphone. She has the same "limits" on her phone as she has on everything else in her life.

Work / School / Responsibilities / personal hygiene comes 1st.

Fun comes 2nd.

Technology is the future. If you aren't teaching your tweens/teens HOW to use technology (of any kind) effectively then they can't use it to their advantage.

That's just my take. But I want my daughter to understand the benefits and pitfalls of ALL Technology.... and her smartphone is just one more piece of that. So, it's the same conversation as the TV, wii, computer etc. There is a time and a place.

So far she has been really responsible and grateful that she has it. We have had ZERO problems. But she has to buy any apps or accessories and if she breaks it or loses it she will have to replace it.

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answers from Raleigh on

My girls are 9 1/2 and 12 and both have iPods. I don't know if this will help you or not but here's our rules. D12 has ADHD so these rules help her with her behavior, well-for the most part :)

Homework always comes first
No taking ipods to school (they could get stolen)
No taking ipods to church or sunday school
No ipods at the dinner table
No ipods during playdates (when you can talk to each other)
If you drop and break/crack the screen (D12 cracked hers on the tile floor) you don't get a new ipod or screen unless you can pay for it yourself
Keep otterbox on ipods at all times
No texting in the bathroom or shower (D12 is guilty of this, sigh)
No passcodes or ipods get taken away
They can't download any apps without my husbands apple ID and they aren't allowed to know it.
After an app has been downloaded no downloading any other apps when parents aren't looking. (Now husband has to wait for apps to download and not walk way or D12 will sneak other apps. She's a sneaky one!)
NO ipods in their bedrooms at night. They don't have access to the mac until 8am either. (Parental controls are a great tool to have)

The ipods get checked every week to monitor texting and emails
No deleting until after ipod gets checked

We also read the American Girl Doll book "A Smart Girl's Guide to Internet Safety. Lately we've been having problems with the girls taking pictures or video of someone and then sending them to other people. They end up fighting and embarrassing each other. In the book it talks about when you should either delete a picture or keep it. Half to read the book again!


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answers from Oklahoma City on

Our kids have access to the TV whenever they want it and they can play on their tablets any time they want. They will pick them up for a little while then go play then go back to them.

Once they are past the new they'll use them less.

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answers from Grand Forks on

My kids do not have (and will not have) cell phones, but they do have ipods, ds's, and video game consoles, and we have limits on when and how much they play on them.

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answers from Washington DC on

The rules:

1. No phone or text after 9PM. UNLESS it is an emergency. PERIOD.
a. emergency is ruled as - death, dying, car accident, fire.
2. No picture texts that you don't want mom or dad to see.
3. No swearing.
4. No phones during ANY meal. PERIOD. You can play games if we go out to a restaurant - but the minute the meal is served, the phone is put away.
5. Homework must be done before games are played.

I check the Verizon statement/account weekly.
I check his phone as well.

My youngest will be getting a phone this year. Same rules will apply.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

My son is 10 & has an iPhone . He is to do his homework right after school, after that he can be on his phone until dinner. He isn't to have his phone, at all , after dinner. He generally only has much time, for his phone, on the weekends.

1 mom found this helpful
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