Kids and Technology: How to Stay Sane in the Fast Lane
I have often heard parents talk about their child’s right to privacy in regard to his or her cell phone. I know I can’t be the only one that thinks this is crazy!
Let’s be very clear: A teenager having a cell phone is a privilege, not a right. I wouldn’t send an inexperienced teen driver speeding down the freeway all alone, making himself a danger to himself and those around him. No! We go to painstaking measure to protect our kids as they learn to drive and eventually drive independently. We also need to take protective and preventive measures to protect them with the use of their cell phones and navigating social media and the internet.
All of those things have consequences that can be life altering and permanent. Risking my child’s reputation or worst-case their future because I want to be “cool” or I want them to like me is just foolish and quite frankly irresponsible. We have to be intentional about this parenting gig, we can’t just go with the flow and the changing times and let these teenagers live life as if they are 20 somethings. It is within the walls of our home that they learn how to be responsible adults and conduct themselves responsibly and with integrity.
My three tweens and teens all have cell phones. Some of them have social media of some form, some of them do not, based on the way they previously demonstrated their ability to use sound judgement. I have to know that I can trust you in order to give you a social media platform, I would hate for you to embarrass yourself, our family, or your peers.
My husband spent over a decade in cyber security and has taught me the ins and outs of most operating systems. My degree is in child development but my real super power is woman’s intuition and a momma’s sixth sense. Here are a few steps we take in our home in regard to kids with phones and tablets:
1. The first thing I do when I give a child in my home a cell phone or tablet is go to the settings and immediately enable restrictions. The easiest and most sensible restriction to enable on the iPhone is to limit adult content on Safari. In my opinion, this is kind of a no-brainer and even the most lenient parent could agree to do this.
2. In restrictions, I either disable the App Store or I take away the “deleting apps” function. Either way you’ve created accountability in regard to the apps and content they download. Sure, you can download it, but now you’re also stuck with it! (Some people will download a messaging app, send and receive content, and then delete the app all together so curious parents or even spouses never even know to look at it).
3. Go through their phones! Check internet history. Read text messages! Open apps! I’ll never forget my husband opening what he thought was a suspicious looking “calculator” only to find it was a app that LOOKS like a calculator but actually hides photos. Sigh…
4. Use a cell phone monitoring service such as teen safe. This service is available for a small monthly fee for ios or Android. With this service, you can remotely read deleted texts, call logs, websites and some social media. Would I read my kids diary? No, not unless I thought they were in danger. Do I want to know who is talking about what? Absolutely! And then when that friend requests a sleepover, no, no we cannot.
5. All phones and chargers retire to the same place every night. In my home, it is my laundry room. For one, I don’t want my kids getting into the habit of falling asleep with their phones. Two, most people are a little more daring in the comfort of their own bedrooms. Three, kids will be a little more aware of who and what they communicate with and about when their precious phones will be unattended for anyone to see for 10-12 hours overnight! Added bonus: this gives me built in time to look through any one of their phones if I sense I need to. (For the record, this is almost never, but don’t tell my kids, I like to keep them on their toes ;))
To some this all may seem a bit extreme, and if you’ve never seen first-hand how hard some of these kids have fallen based on actions they’ve made on social media, the internet or the ever-dreaded screen shot; then I would agree, it is a lot of extra work. However, I would argue more so that they are worth it. I will be in my kids’ business because they have a future at stake, and it’s my job to protect it.
Let’s stay on top of this together! We need to bring the “village back!
Keep on keeping on,
Watch my video on how to set up those basic restrictions: https://youtu.be/_8C4V6opyqE