Many parents have technology rules for their kids, but Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are stricter than most, as you might imagine! So do the Duggars have cell phones? Can the kids use social media? And what about TV? We’ve got the answers below.
In 2014, Jessa Duggar told the Times Free Press all the Duggar kids get a cell phone when they get their driver’s licenses. But in a 2015 interview with Covenant Eyes Radio — a podcast run by the “Internet accountability” service Covenant Eyes — Michelle and Jim Bob said not all the kids get smartphones, and those who do get dumbed-down smartphones, so to speak.
“Young men would have more of a struggle seeing bad stuff, so what we’ve done with the smartphones is that we’ve … actually locked out Safari and any Internet search at all, and then we’ve just had basic apps,” Jim Bob said. “We have emails and just the basic things on the phones for the guys. But even on the maps and things there are some ways to see some bad things, and that’s a struggle.”
He continued, “For most of the boys, we have actually gone back to the basic, cheap phone — the 1995 phone. All it has is phone calls, and you can text on it. Some of our sons have [smartphones] but most of them just have the cheap, basic phones.”
(Plus as we’ve previously reported, the elder Duggars monitor their children’s texts, too. Sometimes they even weigh in on their kids’ courtship via group texts.)
To keep the kids’ Internet use “wholesome,” the elder Duggars install the Covenant Eyes software on family computers and have their kids do schoolwork and research with a sibling serving as an “accountability partner.” On the podcast, Michelle explained: “We prefer that any research that they’re doing on the Internet will be in the main area [of the house] with at least one other set of eyes watching on. They get permission and then myself or one of my older daughters will punch in the password and let them get on [the computer].”
Meanwhile, the Duggar kids are only allowed to join social media once they get engaged, which is why Jana Duggar is nowhere to be found on Instagram. But in the Times Free Press interview, Jessa claimed they’re too busy to be liking posts anyway. “We aren’t really into social networking because we don’t have time to do a lot of that,” she said. “TLC has set up Facebook accounts for our family, and Josh manages the Twitter account for the family.”
As for other screens, the Duggar kids are only allowed to watch selected TV shows. For example, in the book Growing Up Duggar, Jana, Jessa, Jill, and Jinger say their parents pick certain episodes of The Andy Griffith Show — i.e. those “not centered around romance or deceptiveness” — for the family to enjoy.
“All of us girls are grateful that we have not grown up with that constant background noise in the home, but really getting to spend more time together as a family and not letting television pull us away,” Jill told the Times Free Press. Of course, the four girls said all the kids have seen TV shows when they were out of the house — and, of course, they probably watch their own reality shows. “It’s like a home video,” Jessa said of their TLC franchise. “It follows us around with whatever is going on in our lives at the time.”
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