Wednesday, 9 March 2016

8 Ideas for dealing with mobile phones in a Catholic family

The first mobile phone I remember was when I was about 7. 
They were incredibly big and super bulky. Only people who had serious money would have them.
Now every child has one... how things have changed! 

Although it is a big relief to be able to contact your children at any point at any time, it presents new challenges which our parents didn't have to deal with so we're on the front line!

The list of the amazing things that phones can do is endless. Great! But also not so great!

As parents we sometimes struggle to control our own phone use, that ever-present urge to reach for your phone is strong! The 'need' to be on top of the latest news respond to every email and of generally being 'connected' is incredible.

To help us as a family we decided to adopt some simple rules.

1. No phone use out of hours: I learnt the rule that you shouldn't call anybody's house after 10pm. Mobiles need to follow the same rules. The night is for sleeping and many bad things are done under the cover of darkness, whether by message or voice call. 

2. Open access to all phones: No passwords, pass codes or any other barrier to prevent other members of the family from accessing the phone, Facebook, Instagram or other programs or devices is permitted. We are a family, we are open, technology is good and to ensure that it stays that way we look out for each other. 'For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed'. ( John 3:20)

3. Leave your phones at home during family outings: Outings and visits take us a way from our normal surroundings and put us in contact with new places and new people. Mobiles do the opposite, we are in contact with the same sites and the same people wherever we are so we have established an occasional 'leave your phone at home' policy to help us enjoy our surroundings and each other's company more. We carry one phone for incoming or emergency calls only.

4. No phones when guests, friends or family are around: The main problem with telephones is that it privileges those who are absent over those who are present. What's the point of having someone over for a visit if you then ignore them to speak with someone who is not there? An occasional check is acceptable, but no more. It teaches the children to communicate face to face and not with the protection of a screen.

5. No phones during Movie Night: Young people seem to find the concept of living in the moment very challenging. They feel like they will miss out on something amazing if they detach from their phone for a second, but the banal whatsapp conversations made up of LOLs and ROFLs simply lead them to miss out on what really is happening. To help us live and value the moment when say...  watching a film together as a family, we try to ensure that we are all doing the same thing at the same time... 

6. No phones at table: Pierpaolo's grandmother used to say 'at table as in Church' the table is a place of communion of sharing and passing on the faith. It is a sacred place and moment for the family and guests. Phones have no place at the dinner table. 'Rule number 6' (as it is known in our house) is definitely the most useful and is the one that is respected without fuss. No phone are to be brought to table during any meal whether a weekly meal or a big Sunday meal.
If any of us, as can happen, is caught looking at his phone there will be always be someone shouting 'RULE NUMBER 6' and the transgressor will quietly put the phone away.

7. No social youtubing: Whatever happened to the art of telling a joke or a funny story? Too often you'll see a group of kids and even adults at a pub staring at a small screen and laughing. Public speakers, raconteurs and comedians will always be appreciated. If you want to show someone at a social gathering a funny video send them a link afterwards but while we're all together you'll have to tell us about it! 

8. Multimedia coherence: This issue goes way beyond phone use but is important even there. We are a Christian family and each member of the family must behave as such in every facet of life. If a young person takes an immodest picture or likes an inappropriate photo on instagram, the problem is not the cameraphone or the social media platform but something deeper. Perhaps a shaky sense of right and wrong, an uncertain grasp of what sin does to us, or the need for validation from the world no matter the cost. That is where we as parents really need to get to work.


  1. Or simply only allow basic phones which call and text: no risk of dodgy pictures, access to bad internet sites, or time wasting. Children/teens can stay in touch with their friends and you, and nobody is ever, ever going to mug them for their £5 phone. It works for us: in fact our older children hassle me to swap my iPhone for one like theirs to stop my "overuse" of social media!

  2. That is definitively an option. there are two ways of dealing with the problem, and the same goes for TV and gaming. You can either control their usage or try to teach them to control their own usage! Sooner or later at college or through work they will have access to the full range of technological devises and with no one to control the, what will they do then?

  3. I agree with all of it!!!
    Our Children never had a mobile phone before they were 15,no internet on their phone, (but of course they rely on wifi!!!), no phone at dinner table.

  4. I agree with all of it!!!
    Our Children never had a mobile phone before they were 15,no internet on their phone, (but of course they rely on wifi!!!), no phone at dinner table.

  5. Great tips! I'm so tempted to go back to a "dumb" phone after seeing how depressing it is to be in a room with everybody ignoring each other while on their own devices...