“Mom, did you have to say that with my friends around?”

If you’ve tuned into Tech Talk Tuesday before, you might already know that in my family, we have decided that the car is a “screens-off” space for all of us. It works great when it’s just us in the car. We talk, we catch up, we sit quietly.

But the other day, I was driving my son Chase (11th grade) and two of his 12th-grade jazz band friends to NYC for a special jazz event. They got online to help me navigate and search for a train that might take them into the city.

Some time after we found there was no train option, they were still on their phones. So in my kindest voice, I explained that we have a rule about not using phones in the car except for navigating. They complied and started a funny bubble gum game and then a license plate game that got us all laughing.

A little while later, they were back on their phones. When I gently reminded them of the rule, they were great about it. Only Chase was slightly annoyed with me. This rule is important to me because I want to emphasize how distracting screens can be for the driver. (A new report released last week by Common Sense Media includes a poll in which 56% of parents admit they check mobile devices while driving and 51% of teens see their parents doing it.)

On a different night, my daughter Tessa invited a couple of friends to stay overnight. Again we were faced with how to adhere to our family’s rules — no phones in the bedroom at bedtime — during a social situation. Tessa and I agreed on a reasonable “phones off” time that she could tell her friends about so that I wouldn’t embarrass her by doing it when they arrived. But in the end, I found myself confiscating the phones at 11:30 because I wanted them to get some sleep.

For this week’s TTT, maybe you’ll have the same conversation we’ll be having, around these questions:

·      Our family’s screen time rules may be different than the rules your friends have in their families. Do your friends know about any of our family’s screen time rules?

·      How would you like me to let your friends know what my screen rules are when they are with our family?

·      Do you think it is embarrassing when a parent enforces your own family’s rules when your friends are around?

·      Has this happened to you when you are with other families? How do you feel about it?