TV presenter Dan Walker has been explaining why he makes his children sign a behaviour contract before getting a mobile phone.
The Channel 5 news host says his two daughters had to agree in writing to a ban on using phones at bedtime and rules around using social media apps.
Speaking to The Times, the former BBC Breakfast presenter, said that he explained to his kids how having a phone is a privilege and ‘you lose it if you abuse it’.
He said: “We are strict. When we got them their phones, we got them to sign up to [the contract and] we had a chat. The contract is . . . there are things we expect from you in terms of what you do with it and how you use it. If you cross the line, we will take it away for a period.”
As well as teenagers, Susanna, 15, and Jessica, 13, Dan, 45, also has an 11-year-old son with his wife Sarah and says they allowed their eldest two to have phones once they started to walk home from secondary school on their own at the age of 12. They were banned from using the likes of Instagram until they were 13.
“They were behind a lot of their friends in terms of getting the apps like Instagram, but that is what we decided to do,” said Dan, who admitted he and his wife regularly check the children’s phones to see what they have been doing.
“We do not let them have their phones in their bedrooms. They charge them downstairs overnight,” he added.
Writing in his new book Standing on the Shoulders: Incredible Heroes and How They Inspire Us, Dan said: “How do we best arm our kids to deal with the toxic landscape they sometimes have to live in? We need to teach our children to be resilient, to realise that it’s OK to feel stressed and anxious, that it’s normal to feel worried about an exam, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or what someone has said about you on social media.
“There is no break for this generation of children. Issues like bullying don’t stop at the school gates. It can be a non-stop, 24 hours-a-day drip-drip build-up of pressure. There can be no release and no let-up.”
Dan added: “I often get threats of violence on social media. That is never nice. I have a family to protect and look after and I take their safety more seriously than I take my own.”
What do you think about making children sign such a contract? Do you have strict rules around mobile phone use? Do you let your kids have apps like Instagram? Let us know your views in the comments here.