The Best Advice I Got About My Child’s Smartphone Addiction

Great tips from readers

SG Buckley
Published in
4 min readSep 19, 2021


A year ago, I wrote a story called My daughter was a creative genius, and then we bought her an iPhone. It went viral— 219k views — with hundreds of people commenting.

Some readers called me an idiot for the way I’d handled things; others made me laugh. Some shared experiences so painful I cried. Most readers were thoughtful and kind, offering lessons learned the hard way.

A lot of readers, including fellow parents, grandparents, twenty-somethings and many kids, gave advice. Interestingly, some of the most valuable advice came from young people who explained the strategies used by their own parents and said why some worked and others backfired.

Here summarized is some of the most helpful advice:

  1. Take time to understand your child’s world

I got a surprising number of replies from twenty-somethings and teenagers — all displaying wisdom far beyond their years. They absolutely agreed that iPhones, online games and social media are addictive, and that limits should be set. But they also said I should reconcile myself to the fact that as kids get older, their interests change. I shouldn’t write off these interests just because they’re digital.

Smartphones give kids creative outlets, many readers said, introduce them to new hobbies, and serve as lifelines to friends. They said that while limits make sense, parents should act less like the phone is a nuisance (and enemy), and instead show interest in what interests their kids. Failure to do so could result in being completely shut out of their lives.

2. Encourage creativity

Smartphones aren’t going away. Banning devices makes kids resentful and sneaky. Readers suggested finding apps that stimulate creativity instead.

Quite a few artists recommended apps for drawing, videos, collages and animation.

Others said I should encourage my daughter to return to some of her old pursuits by buying paints or clay or a sewing machine.

I appreciated this advice, and have tried these strategies with mixed results. We got her the art app Procreate, for example. She used it for a…



SG Buckley
Writer for

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.