Erin Stewart: Setting family rules for devices


New iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano mp3 players stand on a shelf in Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan in February 2017.

My daughter has been saving up for an iPod for almost a year. When this iPod plan started, I was 100 percent onboard. She was saving up, working hard doing neighborhood jobs and earning money at home. Long-term goal? Check. Self-motivated? Check. Portable music device that couldn’t possibly cause any problems. Che — wait a minute. Why does this iPod look like a cellphone?

This month, my daughter finally realized her dream of buying her iPod, and I realized that I have not been paying much attention to the Apple product line. An iPod used to be a music device. For music. Sometime between when I last looked at an iPod circa 2010 and now, this “portable music player” became a smartphone without an actual phone line.

So while I thought I was signing off on my 10-year-old daughter buying a glorified Discman, she now owns a pocket-size portal into the wonders and horrors of the internet, not to mention hours of potential time-wasting entertainment at her fingertips.

Now, my husband and I are scrambling to act like we totally knew what an iPod was and are definitely not outdated and irrelevant old fogies, and we knew all along that we would need some ground rules on how and when our daughter can use her newfangled iPod. (That’s right, I said it. Newfangled.)

We don’t want to be too strict because she earned the iPod all on her own. She set a goal, worked hard and should be able to enjoy the results. But I also don’t want her to be sucked into the world of screens and constant stimulation.

Here’s what we’ve come up with so far, along with a little help from recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

1. Phone-free spaces: We’ve always had a no-phone policy at the kitchen table, but I learned…

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