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Do your children's phones need a custody plan?

One of the more challenging aspects to being a parent today is dealing with your children's interaction with technology, especially electronic games and portable devices. Children, it seems, are attracted to bright shinny objects like moths to a flame, and the proliferation of all types of devices from an Xbox or computer game consoles to iPads and smartphones, all of them endlessly fascinating.

However, depending on your child custody agreement, how each parent will handle their children's interaction with these technologies can become another source of conflict with your former spouse.

If you both have similar views, the conflict may be minimized, but divorce seems to bring out the likelihood of conflict, even where there may not be a conflict. You may adopt a stricter policy of technology use as a way of differentiating your household. "We do not permit the use of texting with phones at the dinner table."

Of course, technology can be useful for a divorced parent, especially for older children, and if the child has their own phone, communication and the logistics of handoffs may be more direct and less conflict laden than if you have to constantly communicate with your ex.

This area can cause its own problems, if the other parent decides you are using that communication to undermine their position. This can be a delicate area.

One thing that is important is consistency. If you want to retain any control or authority, you need to be consistent and fair. If texting and phone use at the dinner table is prohibited; you too, will need to put away the phone when eating.

This rules and etiquette are still being worked out in society at large, so you need to be very aware of habits and behavioral patterns you promote with your children. And you need to recognize that you cannot control what goes on at the other parent's home.

Maybe child custody and parenting plans will someday include detailed instructions governing this topic. Right now, given the rate changes appear, flexibility and an overall philosophy that is consistently applied may be the best policy.

Source: The Huffington Post, "6 Ways to Manage Children's Technology Use With Shared Physical Custody," Dr. Kate Roberts, March 5, 2014

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