To ask DSS and DSD to not use their devices at certain times?

(65 Posts)
PopMusic Mon 04-Mar-13 22:47:09

Ok, I am really not sure if I abu or not.

DP and I made a rule not to use any devices from the time DS (4) comes home from school to the time he goes to bed. It's working really well for us. We spend more time chatting, playing, I get help with the cooking and generally we are more there, iykwim, instead of half hearing/listening and repeating questions etc.

DP has 2 grown up children who visit occasionally. We love having them here and DS really enjoys playing with them. But it feels like that their noses are constantly in their phones, laptops, etc. A typical weekend is turning up late Friday night, them staying up late chatting online to friends or texting friends or playing games and then getting up late. Then straight into their devices. DS wants them to play, which tbf they do but only for about five minutes. We don't get much conversation from them either. Both DP and I find it really frustrating because we love them to bits, they are wonderful, funny people but sometimes it feels like a waste of a weekend when they hardly seem to "here" mentally.

Would it be aibu of me (and DP, of course) to ban devices for a couple of hours for their stay? How do other people cope with their children who come to visit but are always on their devices (they are in their early 20s)?

MerryCouthyMows Mon 04-Mar-13 22:53:41

shock You can't 'ban' an adult from doing things?!

Would YOU take kindly to being told that you couldn't MN when you felt like it?

They may be your DH's children - BUT they aren't 'children', they are ADULTS. After the age of 16/18, they are adults and should be treated as such.

You can ASK them if they could leave their devices alone between certain times, but if they had to take a call (or even wanted to), you have no right to stop them.

Would you ban a friend the sane age as you from using their phone in your house? No? Then why do you think you have any right to ban any other adults from using their phone or laptops?

Also - how much do you think adults in their 20's have in common with a 4yo if they don't yet have their own DC's?

You are expecting them to play with him as if they are in a similar age group.

Did YOU spend hours playing with 4yo's when YOU were in your 20's?!

I don't really think you can 'ban' something for visiting adults. But I would be pointedly asking them why they bother to visit me, when they don't actually spend any time 'with' me. They may have genuinely not realised what they are doing.

Catsdontcare Mon 04-Mar-13 22:56:17

You will look a bit bonkers tbh if you do

MerryCouthyMows Mon 04-Mar-13 22:56:25

Is this post a serious post? Surely, OP, you can see that having a 16 year+ age gap means that they aren't going to be that interested in playing Thomas the Tank engine any more than your 4yo is going to be interested in organising the next night out down the pub?!

PopMusic Mon 04-Mar-13 22:58:10

Oops! Sorry, I didn't mean ban of course, I meant ask them not to use t.

PopMusic Mon 04-Mar-13 22:59:57

I did say to ask in the thread title - I must be tired!

livinginwonderland Mon 04-Mar-13 23:03:29

you can't ban adults from doing things! ask them, but if they don't want to, there's not much you can do about it!

Dromedary Mon 04-Mar-13 23:09:40

They may be adults, but they are your DH's children, and it is his and your house. If they are not talking to you and generally contributing to making it a nice weekend, then they are basically using you as a hotel. I think it would be fair enough to have a discussion with them about this, and reach a compromise.
If I invited a friend to stay for the weekend, and she spent all her time chatting with her other friends on Facebook and Twitter, I would be pretty pissed off, and probably wouldn't invite her again.

PopMusic Mon 04-Mar-13 23:13:33

blush I didn't mean ban grin, I honestly meant to say ask.

Funnily enough, at their grandparents house they don't to tend to use their devices as much and they do play with DS a lot more and we get more conversation out of them too. But that tends to be at Christmas, Easter etc times.

It's worse when it's a short weekend visit. It's like a habit, I guess (goodness knows, I've been there). If they spend more than a few days with us at ours, they tend to use their devices less after a couple of days.

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Mar-13 00:46:04

I'm 21. I respect my parents rules about using mobiles at the table etc (mainly as I have a 15 year old brother), but not a cat in hells chance I would do anything other than snort with laughter if they tried to ban me from using my phone when I was over.

If they're played with your DS for a small amount of time, they're still engaging with him.

WaitingForMe Tue 05-Mar-13 03:20:28

Of course you can ban them. We have no devices at the table and several times I've told DH and DM to put theirs away. It's about setting an example to small children and I'd expect teenage siblings to respect that.

But then I did once threaten MIL with the naughty step so perhaps I'm odd grin

complexnumber Tue 05-Mar-13 06:46:22

In a few years your son is going to be using a device of some sort for homework. Are you going to tell him not to while his siblings are around? Can you not go for something that can apply to everyone of all ages like no devices while you are eating together?

chandellina Tue 05-Mar-13 07:10:44

Definitely ask them to lay off, they might even enjoy taking a break. It's outrageous how isolated screen time has replaced traditional social interaction.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 07:18:11

If they were much younger, I think that you could- but not when they are early 20's. The age range is huge and they are not going to spend the entire time playing with a 4yr old. Mine are in their early 20s and always have phones etc but if you talk to them they stop, they wouldn't bring them to the table and we go out - they are quite sociable.
It would be a bit unrealistic to think that a houseful of adults are going to centre entirely on a 4yr old. The best thing would be to get them to take him up to the park on their own, or go out and leave them babysitting and then they will have to relate more.

lljkk Tue 05-Mar-13 07:20:23

I think R to ask politely, U to expect them to obey.
Could turn off the WiFi when you want them not to have access, reduce them to phone only as option.
they may decide to visit less often as a result.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 07:21:24

"Would you ban a friend the sane age as you from using their phone in your house? No?"

Obviously not, but I'm sure the OP wouldn't have a friend to stay for the weekend if all that friend ever did was have her nose in an electronic device rather than actually conversing

Smartiepants79 Tue 05-Mar-13 07:29:02

It is not unreasonable to expect them to play with their younger sibling, presumably that is part of the reason why they come to stay.
As they are adults, then an adult conversation, explaining that you have time without your devices etc. and that you would like them to do the same while they stay with you. You can't MAKE adults do things but by the same token you can expect them to behave like adults and compromise.

PopMusic Tue 05-Mar-13 07:36:38

I don't expect the whole household to be centred around a four year old, that would be unrealistic. grin. DSD is much better at engaging with us than DSS. And for the record, I would not ask them to put their devices away the whole weekend, just certain times.

Smudging Tue 05-Mar-13 07:37:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 07:46:47

If they are adults visiting for a weekend do you plan what to do are are they just 'there'? We have cousins coming next weekend- we have things planned, to give them a choice- we are not just sitting in the house for 2 days. If you are not going out and have no plans for what to do at home then it is unrealistic to think they won't amuse themselves - as would a 4yr old. When my mother stays she amuses herself part of the time with a book- since she is elderly and not much help I am grateful that she does amuse herself. If you want them to stop you need to give them things to do.

FlowerTruck Tue 05-Mar-13 07:48:09

How old are they ? Do they stay for entire weekends or do they just pop round for a couple of hours ?

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 07:50:29

Early 20s FlowerTruck - not teenagers.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 05-Mar-13 07:51:46

Of course you can ban adults from doing things. There are lots of things we're banned from doing by laws, rules, and regulations. The way you ban adults from doing things is by asking and backing up the ask with consequences which are within your power.

One of Mumsnet's favourite phrases "your house, your rules" includes an implicit understanding of this - you can set the rules or exclude them from your house.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 07:54:46

You can ban whatever you like e.g shoes on your carpets, but don't expect people to want to visit you!

CloudsAndTrees Tue 05-Mar-13 07:54:49

If they are in their early 20's, yes I think YWBU. It's lovely that they still come together to stay with you at that age, so I wouldn't want to jeopardise the fact that they still do for anything.

Smartiepants79 Tue 05-Mar-13 08:10:56

I think it is terribly sad to think that you have to put up with behaviour that bothers you just because they are kind enough to still visit you!! I hope I' m not expected to be eternally grateful for my children visiting me.
That is just part of what you do for your family. Even if you are an adult.
This is their father, not just some random extended family.
I am 33 and I would still expect to respect the rules of my mums house.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 08:37:05

I can only think that those posting have not got children in their 20s visiting.
This is their family, people they know, love and are comfortable with. I am not eternally grateful they are visiting- I know they come home because they like our company and it is relaxing and pleasurable. They are not going to start doing things that they have never done, like bring their phone to the table at meal times. They are not going to come if I beset it with rules and tell them what they can't do or should do - and stand by 'my house- my rules'. They will keep to the ones they have never done so it isn't a problem.
If you haven't got adult children then imagine you have a 4yr old and your siblings in their 20s come - I know mine would look at me and grimace as in 'bossy older sister' and tell me that we are not children now!
At 33yrs I would expect to be on a different relationship with my mother than 13 yrs - and if she has lots of rules it would be a visit for duty and not pleasure. I can visit her and read my book or the newspaper- which are no different.
If you don't want them to do it make sure that you have activities planned - don't just expect them to sit around playing with a 4yr old the whole time unless they really love small children.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 09:02:01

To be honest it's common courtesy when in someone elses home to not have your nose permanently stuck in your phone/tablet. Yes some of the time if it's your parents' home but all the time is just the height of rudeness. It's fine to tell someone they're being rude. If they want to be treated like part of the family, which clearly they are, then they should engage and act like part of the family.

crashdoll Tue 05-Mar-13 09:51:45

It's not "someone else's home", it's their dad's home!

DeWe Tue 05-Mar-13 09:52:08

I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to say to them when ds is not there:
Ds would love you to play a little with him. Do you think you could play with him for, say, the half an hour before tea/bed/I take him out.
That way they don't feel if they start playing with him they're stuck for the rest of the evening.

However putting it as they shouldn't be playing on their phones, they should be playing with ds, will make them really resent him.

I might also look for doing something as a family during the day. Be it going somewhere, or doing something. Not insisting they do, but saying you'd love to have them join you.

Imaginethat Tue 05-Mar-13 10:01:49

Yes you can ban them. We have friends who have a no devices rule. There's a box at the front door. They are wonderful friends and I love that they value time with friends enough to switch off phones etc

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 10:17:02

"It's not "someone else's home", it's their dad's home!"

My parents house is their home, not mine. When I am in their home I have the common courtesy to engage with them at least some of the time. It is someone else's home in that it is not mine, of course!

lottiegarbanzo Tue 05-Mar-13 10:28:22

You can explain the approach you take and that it's partly about setting an example to your DS and ask if they'd be willing to play along for a while.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 10:38:53

I 't think there is a single person on this thread who has DCs in their 20s! Having them in the flesh is very different from hypothetical ones!
I think that some of you must have very formal relationships with your parents and siblings. The step children must be engaging some of the time!

You can explain the approach you take
but they don't have to take the same approach -it isn't as if they are children still setting an example. Have you any idea how old 20+years appears to a 4 yr old!! They are ancient! What they do has no bearing on what he does.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 10:39:26

Sorry 'I don't think'-it should have read.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 10:47:42

We have actually been DC's in our 20's though. And in a lot of cases still are adult "children" who visit our parents' homes

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 13:14:50

We have all been 4yrs olds too- it doesn't mean that we parent our 4yr olds the same. When I was in my early 20s and went home for a few days we didn't sit stiffly in the parlour making conversation! Life went on as normal- my brother was still at school. I just joined in or went out and about. I read the newspaper, helped cook the meal etc- it wasn't rude. Had there been the Internet at the time I'm sure that I would have used it. I went to stay with much older cousins when I was small- it was nice if they played with me but they were often doing other things.
Having a 22yr old DC is nothing like having been one yourself!

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 13:24:38

The OP isn't talking about polite conversation in the palour for heavens sake. Get a grip. She says "their noses are constantly in their phones"

There is something acceptable in between that can meet everyone's needs I'm sure. I'm not sure who you think made you queen on knowing how 20 something year olds need to be treated

GreatUncleEddie Tue 05-Mar-13 13:35:44

I think it would be ok to ask them not to use their phones at mealtimes

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 14:06:20

Have many 20somethings have you got allnewtaketwo?
One of mine came last week with his girlfriend. They went off to sort out the car at the garage. We had a very nice lunch. DS played in his phone afterwards because his girlfriend and I had coffee and talked about things that he had no interest in. They walked off down to town. In the evening we all went out for a meal and had good conversation.
I generally ask them if they have plans or suggest something- if we are just sitting around of course they can go on phones etc. Why not?
Considering the thread on here recently where people can't abide playing snakes and ladders with their own DCs I can't see why you expect visitors to.
If you want to get DSS more engaged, give him a football and ask him to take DS down to the park on his own.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 14:14:26

If they have got to be young adults living on their own and you haven't addressed politeness and when to use a phone it is all a bit late. Mine wouldn't use it at mealtimes or if having a conversation but if they want to have their heads in at at other times they are free to do so.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 14:52:45

Ok exotic, you are clearly the expert based on your sample size of one <<applauds exotics superior knowledge>>

valiumredhead Tue 05-Mar-13 14:59:29

Do you think they have their noses in their phones so they don't have to play with your child? Perhaps they don't want to?

Smartiepants79 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:11:35

All of this comes down to respect.
If you are happy for your adult visitors to use their phones etc. whenever they wish in your home then that's fine.
The problem here is that the OP isn't.
She feels it is impacting on the family relationship.
This isn't some random 4 year old either but a sibling and I believe they could have a very important impact on who he becomes.
I have seen this exact relationship in fact and the younger sibling worshiped the older, followed them and copied much of what they did/ said etc.
Saying they will have no bearing on what he does is like saying his parents have no impact on what he does!
ALL adults, especially family are role-models.

crashdoll Tue 05-Mar-13 15:20:55

I'd want my adult children to feel comfortable in my home; kick off their shoes and curl up on the sofa. You can't compare going to your dad's home to visiting a friend's home.

It's fair enough to say no devices at meal times but you are being unreasonable.

valiumredhead Tue 05-Mar-13 16:17:54

I agree crash

foreverondiet Tue 05-Mar-13 16:32:41

I think you can ask them to text in another room as its hard to stop your 4 yo playing on the phone if the adults are playing. If they say no not much you can do...

Grinkly Tue 05-Mar-13 16:33:39

Maybe you can jokingly ask what's the latest on their facebook. They prob have some v funny photos/ stories of friends, perhaps you could start by showing something from your emails/fb first (maybe a funny youtube thing).

If you don't know their friends it's difficult to get involved but you never know you might get to know them via what they tell you and you can, in future ask how friend's ski trip/ new job/ latest romance is going. Twentysomething's can have pretty exciting lives.

PopMusic Tue 05-Mar-13 17:16:07

We don't spend the whole weekend cooped up in the house - ugh, can you imagine? We go for walks, go to a cafe or for a meal out. But it's not all hectic, there is plenty of down time too. smartiepants has got it spot on. DS gets so excited when he knows they are coming and they look forward to spending time with him and us. I don't mind them using their phones etc , just not when we are having conversations and a play - it's completely unrealistic to ask them to not use it at all.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 17:47:38

I think that my sample size is a little larger than one!
They are adults- what are you going to do when DS is 14 and they are in their 30s- still tell them how to behave?
They can't suddenly have started doing it- they must have been the same on previous visits and it hasn't been tackled.
I would use humour- I do what Grinkly does.
If they are interacting, going out etc I can't see why they can't have a bit of down time on the Internet.
It is unrealistic to expect them to play with DS all the time- short bursts is more likely- unless they take him out or are left babysitting.

TheSeniorWrangler Tue 05-Mar-13 18:13:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 18:33:12

Exotic if they are 30yo and spending 24/7 glued to their phones while visiting family then they really would have a manners problem

crashdoll Tue 05-Mar-13 18:42:21

Pop forgive me if I'm assuming but from your last post, it sounds as if you want them to pay some attention to your son. Perhaps they're not really interesting in interacting with him or perhaps they don't know how or maybe they just want to chill with their family without the pressure of entertaining a 4 yr old.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 18:55:30

You are taking it very literally! I merely meant they were adults and won't necessarily be devoting all their time to DS, even if he wanted then to as a 14yr old. We have cousins staying this weekend - they are adults, we have things planned- if they wish to chill out a bit when we are doing nothing, with book, phone, newspaper, crossword etc I shall let them get on with it.
OP's step DCs are not in a usual situation, generally they would be in the old family home and would go out and meet friends etc. They wouldn't be visitors expected to entertain a 4yr old -and be treated in a similar way. It would be difficult if they were around 10 yrs, but it is fairly simple to say to a 4yr old 'when you grow up you can buy yourself a phone and choose when to use it - now you are only 4yrs and you can't'. Even simpler to say 'DSD and DSS didn't do it when they were 4yrs'.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 19:51:38

Exotic your making far too much of the 4yo, OP didn't actually say she expects them to be entertaining/babysitting/permanently engaging with the 4yo

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 20:15:56

My understanding was that she wants them to follow the rule that she and DH have for not using devices from when he gets home from school until his
bedtime. The inference being that they didn't used to do this. They have not insisted on this earlier with the step children, because they are adults and doing it. It is always difficult stop things that have been allowed in the past. Always better to start as you mean to get on.
Some people in their 20s love playing with small children, some are happy to do it for a while and some are not interested. I can't see that stopping them from using phones is going to make them any more sociable. Much better to instigate something sociable where they can't use the phones.

allnewtaketwo Tue 05-Mar-13 21:05:39

Pretty sad situation if a 20 year old has to be actively entertained or they have nothing to say or contribute to family life rather than have their head in a phone.

exoticfruits Tue 05-Mar-13 21:44:21

Generally a 20 year old is doing their own thing at home. They come home and they go out-see friends etc. If you have to wait until 20+ to ask your DC not to do something -you have left it a bit late!
If you had a family with a full time 20+ year old and a 4 year old you wouldn't be having family life the way you would with a 6 yr old and 4 year old, or even 14yr and 4 year old.
If it is important to you just ask them if they would mind putting them away at certain times-I expect that they will merely be a little surprised that you have gone at least 5 years without asking them!

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Mar-13 06:02:58

At home, id agree with you. But at home it would be interspersed with conversation. But these adults visit occasionally. On such occasional visits they should definitely make some effort to lift their nose out of a phone and have a conversation with an actual live person in their family.

exoticfruits Wed 06-Mar-13 07:12:04

The whole thing is artificial, they are still having access visits as if they were children and don't seem to have moved on and I would think that the whole topic was fine if they were 10 years younger. It seems odd that they are both independent adults, presumably working, who both turn up together to go for walks to a cafe etc. anything is very restricted with a 4 yr old - you can't go on long, fast walks etc.
it would seem to me that these visits follow the same pattern that they always have and that playing on computers have been fine and nothing has been said in the past, or they wouldn't be doing it.
Maybe neither side has thought about it, they just come, muck in with what is going on, amuse themselves if nothing is happening and go home.
There are probably things OP could do with DSD on her own and leave DSS and DS with DH to do something. Or the step children could swoop down and take DS off by themselves to the swimming pool or similar. They could get a babysitter and go out in the evening. There are lots of combinations. There might be something happening locally that you ask them if they want to come especially for that. I would have thought that work commitments or social lives might have meant that one comes at a different time from the other or they bring a girlfriend, boyfriend instead.
The age gap is such that they are more like a godparent role than a sibling, someone who comes along, takes a special interest and does fun things. I have a friend who married a widower with 3 children and brought them up, she then had children when they had all left home, apart from the youngest. The older ones are part of the family, and most definitely siblings, but they have never just turned up together to be entertained- they come singly- see the family but go out to see old friends etc. They come together if it is Christmas, a birthday or similar.
The times that these visits are going to continue in the pattern that they have at the moment are limited so it would seem a bit late to suddenly impose a rule that has never been there before. If it is terribly important just ask them.

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Mar-13 07:36:43

Who says they're still having access visits as if they were children??? If the visits are occasional then it doesn't sound like an "access" pattern to me.
Sometimes my brother and I go to my parents to stay at the same time. Nothing to do with access visits for heavens sake. Doesn't have to be "artificial" at all.

exoticfruits Wed 06-Mar-13 08:27:51

I am thoroughly bored with the whole thing! My survey is of far more than one and DCs in their 20s don't just turn up for a weekend at their home ( parent's house - if you want to be picky, which no doubt you do) without a few plans of their own. They generally don't turn up together unless they want to meet up with the sibling. I don't know any with 4yr old brothers but no doubt they would take the 4yr old out on their own- many have cars.
It is hardly a problem- just ask them not to use them at certain times- it is just a bit strange that it has never been tackled before. My first reaction would be 'why didn't you say so x years ago?'
I still relax when I go to my mother's house- I can chat, take her out, read a book use my iPad- all quite happily if I am staying.
I really don't know why you are getting so upset- if you don't do that at your parents then fine- we are all different.

allnewtaketwo Wed 06-Mar-13 08:33:09

Who's upset? I do similar things to you at my parents' house by the sounds of it. But that's got nothing to do with the OP, whose adult DSCs don't do those things but just have their noses permanently stuck in devices rather than engaging with the family. That was the nature of her post.

RubyrooUK Wed 06-Mar-13 09:35:09

Pop, I wouldn't bother asking them to put their devices away. I would simply say in hushed tones:

"Oh are you on Facebook? Watch out for [4 year old] - he is obsessed by phones and if he sees yours in your hand, he'll probably whip it off you and you'll never get the settings back to normal..."

And tell loud stories about how you have to hide your phones from DS because if he sees them, he wants to play and accidentally downloads really expensive apps.

Or a variation on that.

Disclaimer: I do not have children in their 20s. This is the technique I use to stop my mother and stepfather in their 60s tapping away on their phones in front of my DS. grin

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