Should there be text-free zones?

texting on bike

A few days ago, I asked my two older kids if they wanted to go on a bike ride. It was dusk, the scorching hot sun was beginning to set and I thought it would be a great way to exercise and talk about our days. Foolish me.

We’re riding along and I hear that familiar buzz…..someone is receiving a text message. I didn’t even realize the kids’ had their cells with them. Suddenly my son’s thumbs spring into texting position. The buzz has caused my daughter to look at her phone, too.  Next thing I know, both my kids are riding and texting at the same time. I slammed on my brakes. “This is ridiculous,” I screamed. “Can’t you put those things away and enjoy a bike ride?”

The incident started me thinking about cell phones and restrictions. I’ve made it clear to my kids that the driver’s seat of a car is a text-free zone. So is our dinner table. Now that my daughter spent $200 on a BlackBerry, she wouldn’t think of getting ketchup on it anyway.  Text-free dining has become accepted in our home and when my kids have friends over, they voluntarily tell their friends the house rule. Though, they probably won’t admit it, I think they like the non-interrupted time to talk about their day.

I know other parents who don’t really mind their kids texting at the dinner table. Mostly, because the parents do it, too.

Pew Research found teens send an average of 3,000 a month. If you have a daughter, you might not be surprised to know that teen girls text more than boys, the research shows.

So far, I haven’t made our bathrooms text-free zones. I’m still considering it. My kids take their phones in to the bathroom with them. I caught my daughter opening the shower curtain because she couldn’t wait the five minutes until she finished to see the text that just arrived on her phone.

My friend recently created a drop box in front of her patio door for cell phones. She doesn’t think they have any business outside by the pool where people should be enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I kind of like that idea.

One parenting site suggests making teens’ beds text-free zones. Many teens stay up into the wee hours of the morning texting instead of getting the sleep they need.

What are your thoughts on text-free zones at home? Do you think they are too difficult to enforce?

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  1. Kath August 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    First of all – I love this blog – I have 2 teens and have been searching for a well written and insightful blog about teenagers among the mommy bloggers of much younger children – So thanks for setting it up and for the great discussion points –

    We are thinking of instituting facebook and texting free hours here once school begins. Last year, when our daughter was in 8th grade we were fairly lax – letting her get her homework done and trusting her not to get too carried away with social media. But I think, as she enters 9th grade, we need to set firmer boundaries for her. I’m hoping that making a blanket rule of no texting, no facebook between the hours of, say, 7 and 9pm (which includes the 1/2 hour they will sit with us at the dinner table) – will get them out of the habit of continual checking. I’ve always found that if we sound inflexible on a point at first, we can relax the point later so that it seems like they’ve “earned” it back.

    We do not allow cell phones in the bathroom after having to replace my younger daughter’s phone twice…!

  2. Brian August 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Our house is a text free zone for anyone under the age of 25. There is a basket on the kitchen counter that holds the phones. We have a regular phone in the home if the kids need to talk to their friends, or if they want to call. That is limited to 20 minutes a call. Dinner time is a complete family “no business calls”, and “no friends calls” time. I have to live by the same rules as I expect them to, and since nothing is more important than my family, the hour that I am “out of touch” for my VP role in corporate america will do little harm.
    Facebook, Twitter, mySpace, and the like are strictly controlled at our home as well. I don’t limit usage as much as i used, however, I certainly let the kids know that I see EVERYTHING they do online regardless of which computer they are on, and where that computer may physically be located. After all that is my full time job too 😉 Since these rules have been in play their entire lives, the only complaint we get are the usual “the Jones’ let their kids do ____”. There are exceptions to the rules, but in general the rules are there for everyone’s sanity.
    I remember growing up in the 70’s, my folks had similar rules on TV, phone calls and the Atari 2600. While the times and venue may have changed, the rules produced good kids.

  3. Aika March 19, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Unfortunately, we don’t have text-free zones here at our house. But now that I’m going to have my own family, I would like to enforce this rule when we move to our newly-bought house before this year ends. Actually, I’m planning not to let my kid get access to mobile phones or other gadgets until she’s old enough to understand both the risks and benefits of using a mobile phone.


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