The New York Times has a good story today about how Silicon Valley parents are limiting their own kids’ access to technology, which briefly mentions my own family’s Twelve Rules of Screens. Here’s our full list of Rules:
1) No phones until the summer before High School
2) No screens in bedrooms (we let them use smart speakers for music)
3) All screens in public spaces (living room, kitchen, etc)
4) Network-level content blocking (OpenDNS and Google OnHub filters to block most inappropriate content). Google Safe Search on house-wide
5) Screen Time Schedules, enforced by Google Wifi. Sample:
6) No iPads (they’re gaming crack). Only Chromebooks for schoolwork.
7) Kids under 12 have to use YouTube Kids and Netflix Kids
8) Absolutely NO PHONES AT THE TABLE
9) We’ll ask you to do your chores once. If they’re not done, Dad whips out his Google Wifi app and you’re off screens for 24 hours. (See “bad behavior” option above)
10) Kids get hand-me-down phones. No new phones until college.
11) If you want a new gaming PC, you have to build it yourself from parts to get the Dad 50% subsidy
12) No social media (Instagram/Snap, etc) until 13
That may sound a bit draconian, but we’ve put all five kids (now ages 10–21) through this program and they’re all happy, doing well in school and we have a lot of fun as a family.
And as an antidote, here are two things we do allow:
1) Violent videogames (first person shooters, etc) are okay once you’re a teenager
2) We’ve got all the coolest gear to play with (VR, robots, 3D printers, night-vision sensors), because Dad is a nerd