Sense & Sensitivity

Children Are Addicted to Cellphones

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage children are out of control with their cellphones. I feel like they are attached to them from the moment they wake up -- around 6 a.m. -- until the moment they go to bed. I hardly see their eyes because their heads are looking down into that little screen. I want to set some boundaries for cellphone usage. I know they don’t want to hear this, but I don’t want to go along with this new trend. -- Out of Bounds, Atlanta

DEAR OUT OF BOUNDS: The constant use of cellphones has reached epidemic proportions these days, so much so that lawsuits have cropped up against tech companies. "We want our lives and families back" is a rallying cry.

Of course you can set limits, even though your children will be angry. Keep a basket at the front door. When your children arrive home, have them put their phones in the basket. Phones can stay there until all homework is finished. If they have chores, those must be completed before getting the phones back. Give them a short window for using their phones in the evening, but do not allow them to keep the phones in their bedrooms. Do not allow any phones at dinner. Have all chargers in a common area, like the kitchen. If they sneak and use their phones at night, move the chargers to your bedroom, where you can oversee them.

An exception may be when they have to study with friends. Be aware that computers can turn into phones, so monitor their computer use as well.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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