A good parenting agreement is key to avoiding conflicts between parents who are no longer together in an intimate relationship. When parents stop being a couple, they still need to think like a team when it comes to their minor children.
While there are all kinds of issues that have to be addressed in a parenting plan, one that you may not have considered is the ground rules concerning electronics. Even if your children are still pretty young, technology is so pervasive in American life that the issues can quickly pile up.
Here are some things to consider as you discuss the issue with your ex:
- How much “screen time” is allowed? Maybe you and your ex agree that it puts a kid at a disadvantage not to be as familiar as possible with modern technology, so you don’t want to limit them entirely. But you also don’t want the kids to use the game system as a substitute for all other things. Talk about this now, before it becomes a problem.
- When is a kid old enough for a phone? How about a tablet or a computer? Having some agreements about when children will have personal electronics (rather than share with their parents) is important. Some parents feel like it’s okay for a 10-year-old to have a cellphone, while others want their kids to wait until they’re teens.
- Who will pay for the electronics and all that entails? Smartphones and game systems come with monthly fees and subscription costs, and those can get pricey. Having an agreement about which parent will pony up the cash (or split the bills) is essential.
- When can access to electronics be restricted? Can one parent unilaterally take away a cellphone or access to the computer to punish a child? How will that affect the other parent’s ability to freely communicate with the child?
Don’t let these important issues slip by when you’re drafting your parenting plan. An experienced family law attorney here in Texas can help you avoid serious mistakes.