Setting Boundaries for Tech-Obsessed Kids

Do the following scenes seem familiar? Your son wants to stay awake an extra hour to play video games; your daughter is glued to her cell phone, and constantly texting her friends; your child spends more time on Facebook than he does reading. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, making it tricky for parents to set boundaries…

Researchers have now discovered why it’s essential for parents to place boundaries on their kids’ electronic use. Kids who don’t have boundaries with technology:

• Have trouble sleeping and get less sleep.
• Exercise less and are more prone to obesity.
• Do less homework.
• Read less.
• Spend less time with their families.
• Have a harder time making good decisions because of the information overload.

Too many electronics in a child’s bedroom can be a distraction. They can wake up at night because one of their friends is calling their cell phone, or the light-emitting aspect of electronics can keep them from getting a good night sleep.

Research also shows that kids—and adults—who use these items too close to bedtime have a harder time falling asleep.

So, in our home, cell phones get turned off and placed on the digital-charging station in our dining room. Our kids aren’t allowed to have computers or TVs in their bedrooms. We also set limits on computer and TV use by turning these items off one hour before bedtime.

  • Get more boundary setting tips from technology and brain development expert, Dr. David Walsh >
  • Naturally, my kids have pushed back against these boundaries. They have friends who have the entire electronic setup in their bedrooms. They complain that they have to walk to the basement to use a computer.

    Your child may be telling you that you’re the only parent who sets boundaries on technology usage, but research will tell you otherwise! One study found that 88 percent of parents agreed about the importance of boundary setting. The problem, however, is that most parents aren’t sure how to place boundaries without setting off war with their kids. Here are some ideas:

    1. Begin by talking with your kids about how you want them to succeed. They need to eat well, get exercise, do their homework, and get enough sleep. You also want them to have fun and stay connected to their friends, but having access to electronic devices around the clock won’t help them succeed. In fact, the older my kids gets, the more I tell them about the dangers of being wired 24/7 to electronic devices.

    Tip: It helps to have a place for charging electronic devices, a place outside of bedrooms. In our home, we don’t allow electronic devices in anyone’s bedroom—including the parents. (A lot of adults are suffering from sleep deprivation because of the electronic devices in their bedrooms.)

    2. Talk about the benefits of electronics so that your kids will know that you’re not anti-technology. It’s great that the Internet can be helpful with homework. I don’t know how I would have helped my son the other day with dimensional analysis without the Internet. It’s great to stay in touch with a cell phone. It’s wonderful to be able to listen to the music that you want on your mp3 player. We love watching movies, whether they’re on TV, a DVD, or bought from the iTunes store.

    Tip: What matters is to be clear what your overall goal is with your kids: You want them to grow up well. Electronic devices can help them get there, if those devices don’t rule their lives at all hours of the day. Successful people know their limits, and they learn their limits with electronic devices.

    Tell Us: ——————> Do you have an effective technology boundary-setting tip? Comment below to share!


    1. Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr, Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults (Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010).

    2. Sharon Begley, “I Can’t Think!” Newsweek magazine, February 27, 2011.

    3. Sophie Terbush, “Glow of Electronic Devices Is Affecting Americans’ Sleep,” USA Today, March 7, 2011.

    4. Scholastic, “New Study on Reading in the Digital Age: Parents Say Electronic, Digital Devices Negatively Affect Kids’ Reading Time,” news release, September 29, 2010.

    5. Rasmussen Report, “Seventy-Five Percent Say Children Spend Too Much Time Using Electronic Devices,” Rasmussen Report, January 25, 2010.

    6. Richard Wray, “Digital Kids Ditch Homework for Networking,” The Guardian, March 3, 2008.

    7. NPD Group, “Kids Using Electronic Devices at Earlier Ages,” NPD Group, March 2007.

    8. Technology and Media, Parentfurther.

    There’s a great app called lifer that I use to keep my kids off of the phone. It actually makes them want to be off of it. Hope this helps.

    Great comments by everyone both for limits and against too many limits. Definitely something to think about. We don’t want to be over-protective parents but some structure and basic family rules are also important. We just gave our 3 kids a break from their gadgets. They were not impressed but are still surviving! This article will help us make a new plan to roll out gadgets in a positive light, but hopefully help them to manage their time better and not go overboard!

    I hate how many parents are really controlling with their kids. Kids learn from making mistakes, and besides, the internet is a great place where they can learn new things and actually do more reading.

    Good bloog i realy lcked it

    Thank you so much I’m going to use this for my essay! Fingers crossed I get an A+! :3

    Naturally, my kids have pushed back against these boundaries. They have friends who have the entire electronic setup in their bedrooms. They complain that they have to walk to the basement to use a computer
    Your child may be telling you that you’re the only parent who sets boundaries on technology usage htp:// but research will tell you otherwise! One study found that 88 percent of parents agreed about the importance of boundary setting. The problem, however, is that most parents aren’t sure how to place boundaries without setting off war with their kids. Here are some ideas:

    well i think kids should play video games whenever they want-Mrs.Windy pants
    also sonic rules, and you can find me at youtube just type in #therealsonicfan:)

    My daughter is exhausted because of technology I removed her i pod then she has downloaded games on her phone and was sent home because of headaches and missed her tutor which I pay out my hard earned money for so I am trying to afford a piano for her to get into playing as she is very bright. thanks for the advice and some of what I say to her is in your article so hopefully she will take more notice of this as she chooses not to believe me.



    This litteraly ruined my life, im 14, and my parents were always overprotective. I still dont have ANY social media accounts, and im pretty sure at least 98% of 14 year olds do….but anyway, im not allowed to even take my phone in my room, all electronics are taken away at 8:00pm. My parents are sooo overprotective, and then they read this article, and more restrictions were created. Gahhhhh!!

    My son is 15 and has become obsessed with the playstation and videos.He is withdrawing more and more from the family and is becoming a recluse,I didn’t realise how bad it was until he told me he didn’t want to play a sport aymore,so my husband is now having to take the computer away completely unless he goes to soccer practice etc.He has not had a friend over to our home for ages,he used to have friends over every weekend…the computer has taken over his life….it is now very hard to “get back to normal” as a family.I know my mistake was allowing it in the first place!

    i think this was relly…............................... I dunno stupid

    [...] technology. Hopefully one day we will be able to find a happy medium to include both and by having boundaries I hope that this can be achieved. Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like [...]

    [...] electronics  Kids Electronics  Add comments Mar 082014   Setting Boundaries for Tech-Obsessed Kids | ParentFurther Our kids aren't allowed to [...]

    I would like to disagree with some things. In this article they mentioned how technology has kept kids from reading, when really it’s just the opposite! I have never read so much in my life because of technology. Books are easyer to get a hold of over technology and you can take it where ever you go! If you’re reading a huge harry potter book and want to go out to the park for a bit to read wouldn’t you rather want a device that allows you to read the exact same thing that can fit into the palm of you hand than a book that can sometime be diificult to read due to glare, or with older books, the print can be smudged. With technology you don’t need to have your reading glasses on for everything. There is a setting where you can change the size of font to what ever pleases you. And for exercising, that just depends on the type of person you are. With the iPhone you can buy or download apps that help you regulate your health. There’s apps that allow you to ind out how many steps you are taking each day, or what you need to eat, or your blood sugar amounts. I must agree on the sleep topic though.

    [...] Turn off cell phones, computers, or any other devices that can keep a teenager up all night or wake them in the middle of the night. [...]


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    I think this article is great, I found it trying to research for a project. I gives great advice and I’m glad I found it! I prsonally think kids my age are obsessed with technology and maybe should take a break for a while.


    My little brother is four and belives my iPod touch is his. Why, he has asked me where his iPod is! Technology is great, but my big sister spends two hours on Facebook!! Hey, why not
    wipe your iPhone, and just Facebook people? You get enough exercise when you go to the apple store which is on the fifth floor of the mall! No escalator. Yeah, fat chance. Good luck next generation. When face to face calls are socially unacepptable. Good luck.


    Gah what are you trying to teach parents. Parents are already over protecting their kids. How are kids going to learn if they don’t make mistakes for themselves.


    Our family has taken the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach” to this issue. Our kids (14 and 11) are involved in a lot of activities and work hard on their school work. As long as everyone is getting enough sleep (judged by being able to arise in a fairly good mood at the appropriate time and be energetic throughout the day), eating well, exercising, etc., we don’t have hard and fast rules about technology. As soon as things look like they could get out of hand we put guidelines in place. One winter, for example, everyone was spending a lot time after school watching tv or on the computer. We made a Technology-Free Mondays rule for several months and that was enough to break the pattern. Another year we had a one-hour limit per weekday until they just got used to doing other things with their time.

    I think it is imperative that children have limits on their electronic usage. The limits that we place on our own children has definitely been beneficial to their school and social lives. I think it’s important, however, that they understand the reasons for these limits being placed on them. We also love watching movies together as a family. In fact, we are looking at purchasing a new audio system for our TV (cinemate 1 sr, for example). But even new devices like this need to have usage limits. We also make sure to get outside often, find things to do around the community, and just get involved with activities outside of our home. Technology can be great, but only when used moderately!