Expert tips for managing devices on playdates and sleepovers

Their kid is allowed to have Snapchat, binge on Netflix and play unlimited Fortnite. Yours, um ... isn’t. How do you handle a playdate - or heaven forbid a sleepover - when friends are used to different rules?

Playing referee to endless requests for screen-time can is nobody’s idea of a good time. But it’s even stickier when friends are over, and they’re used to different rules around device use (or say they are!).

shutterstock_196066724

You’re keen to help your kids make friends and keep them, and - like it or not - “fitting in” is an important part of that. Making your child the odd man out can place a heavy burden on them.

And just as you might allow special after-school treats when friends are over, you might want to consider a more relaxed approach to screen-time. Or … you might not. That’s absolutely your call.

One thing is clear:  throwing away your own carefully thought out and maintained boundaries whenever another child enters your home sends all the wrong messages - and may even put your child at risk.

So you want your child to have fun and feel confident when hosting friends. At the same time, you want to maintain your family’s values, and hold the line on what you believe to be right for your child - without being cast in the unenviable role of fun-sucker.

But how? For expert advice, we asked Family Zone cyber expert, mum of three and child development specialist Dr. Kristy Goodwin for tips.

Tip #1: Ask upfront

It’s probably not the best idea to rely on your child’s friend for intell on screen-use. Head straight to the source - the friend’s parents - and find out from them exactly what they allow. Says Dr. Kristy, “I’ve found that many parents feel relieved that you’ve given the opportunity to openly discuss this issue, rather than putting the onus on them to bring it up.” 

It doesn’t need to be a formal interview. “Something along the lines of, ‘Kelly,  just wondering if you have any specific tech rules that I should know about’” is pretty much all that’s required, she says.

Tip #2: Ask open-ended, specific questions

“How would you feel about [game, app or movie]” is probably a better way to open up a conversation than posing a bald yes/no question (“Do you allow [game, app or movie]?”). Open-ended questions, that can’t be answered with a single word, will give the other parent an opportunity to share more general thoughts - for instance that G-rated Netflix movies are fine, but MA aren’t, or that Fortnite is okay but Call of Duty is off-limits.

shutterstock_631132892

Where your own rules differ, this is an opportunity to explain what they are - and to avoid unnecessary wrangling later. (“Zoe’s mum and I agreed that your phones need to be turned off at 10 pm, and handed to me and Dad until the morning.”)

Tip #3 Don’t be afraid to set firm tech boundaries

As a leading digital parenting consultant, Dr. Kristy has heard countless stories of playdates and sleepovers going off the rails because of unsupervised tech use. 

“I’ve had parents share that their Year 6 daughters saw a live-streaming video of a suicide attempt on a social media feed when a smartphone was pulled out at midnight on a sleepover. I’ve had children who’ve had nightmares for months on end because they played violent video games at playdates.”

She acknowledges that parents with stricter rules may find their house “isn’t always the first choice for playdates” - but so be it. Your first responsibility is to your child’s safety and wellbeing. 

Tip #4 Build in tech-free time … and they will come

Screens have become the default activity when kids get together. But when tech-free time is the order of the day, you are giving them the space to discover other ways to have fun -  often more exhilarating and engaging than yet another round of YouTube videos.

One mum who insisted on unplugged sleepovers, found kids were practically standing in line for an invitation once word got out that they could play “Spotlight” in the dark, bake cookies and stay up late playing Monopoly marathons. 

shutterstock_1291893910

That’s not to say you need to ban devices. But do “set up activities and make playdates and sleepovers so much fun that kids aren’t asking for devices,” Dr. Kristy advises. 

 

With the Family Zone Box, you can apply your family’s settings - automatically - to all guest devices that connect to your WiFi.

Tell me how!

Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, play, wellbeing, sleepover

Try Family Zone for FREE

Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

Free Trial
Subscribe to our newsletter
Follow us on social media
Popular posts
Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
MOMO unmasked
Parental Controls | Screen time | musical.ly | online predators | tiktok
It's the world's most popular app. And you've probably never heard of it.
Parental Controls | Pornography | Cyber Safety | Social Media | parenting | digital parenting
Pornstar to parents: shame on you!
Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | vpn
VPN apps: what are they and why are teens now using them?
Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | instagram
30 seconds: the time it takes to find porn on Instagram

Recent posts

 
Screen-time, learning and literacy: What every digital parent needs to know

Too much screen-time has eroded the academic performance of Aussie students over the past five years - and devices “pervasively penetrating ...

 
The hours your kids will never get back

A new online platform has been developed to show us exactly how much of our lives device use is gobbling up.

 
Experts' top tips for a kinder internet

Trolling. Cyberbullying. Revenge porn. Violence. Hate speech. Sometimes it seems the internet has turned empathy into an endangered species.

 
Are screens a mental health risk at your child's school?

If BYOD and 1:1 device policies are in place - as they are in nearly every school across Australia - the answer is most likely ‘yes.’