Parenting | The Smartphone Debate

Cell phone ownership is a hot topic these days.

Opinions vary about digital freedom, and everyone has their own set of rules. Common ground is rare with this conversation, right?

At some point, young or old, kids will have their own devices. — It’s a step forward in growing up. Networking and independence evolve; emotional current has its way with parents. (I know I’m not alone in the struggle. Families are all trying their best here, we hope.)

This is a controversial topic, but can I just say this…the conversation too often points to the wrong concern. Society has become so focused on age-appropriate freedom, bu tis time really the resolveIt doesn’t matter how old a person is, smartphones can get anyone in trouble!

We should think more about how we use them, not necessarily when. We have freedom to dumb-down these little pieces of metal, and we should. A smart phone doesn’t have to unlock every door. Boundaries are the greatest concern.

Parents, can we ask this instead. “How do I use phone ownership (or lack of) to guide my child toward healthy, capable independence in our technology-driven society?”

Do you agree? Isn’t “healthy responsibility” the ultimate goal?

How many years do we count before these little people reach adulthood? Until then, they can’t fend alone with stuff. As parents, we have to be involved, — concerned, accountable, & committed. We have to walk this journey together. Literally, give freedoms one at a time. Don’t go all-in! But don’t go all-out either.

Technology is a constant part of life, we know. Essentially, everywhere we go, opportunity is nearby. These years of parenting are critical for support with digital accountability. And avoidance doesn’t build muscle.

For us and for our kids, let’s ask. How do we respond, and how do they? What kind of character strength do we need here? 

When to give the phone is just a conversation starter. At some point, parents, we must unharness and trust our kids. At some point. But, remember this is a journey. Don’t let go too soon.

Here are some ways we can build accountability and establish boundaries for screen safety. What would you add?

  • Eliminate mature content. (Restrictions password, replacement browsers, etc.)
  • Monitor interactions/texts/and other messages.

  • Filter whatever you make available.

  • Turn off the Internet on mobile screens. Save it for a computer in safe view.

  • Limit password freedom.

  • Set restrictions with a unique password for ratings and other safety on mobile screens.

  • Keep downloads a privilege.

  • Get rid of YouTube and other social media apps until the timing is right, or until you have a safe way to offer it.

  • Research your concerns and find answers.

  • If you can’t make it safe, opt out.

  • Pray. (This one’s a huge priority for me.)

  • And of course, keep communication lines open.

I’ll end here. Parents, please no judging. Everyone needs encouragement with choices that are made. You are not alone. It’s a challenge for all of us!

Look around. 

Every. Parent.

Is. On. This. Journey.

 

Saying a prayer for those who read this. As always, thank you for being here!

Together We Thrive ~ Ayme

Technology | DIY Freedom

Determine the goal. | Determine Reasoning / “Why” | Design Boundaries / Consider Consequences | Create Accountability

 

Pros and cons with internet connection leave me unsettled. How about you? It’s not “if” we need discretion, but how and why, and when. “Hoping for the best” doesn’t pan out; there’s too much to consider. But I refuse to dwell in fear. How do you feel about it all?

Most of us, especially if you’re in on this conversation, are trying to figure out some kind of balance with technology. And however deliberate, we approach it with one of three ways: Avoidance (limiting exposure), Acceptance (living in the moment), or Accommodation (a combination of both). Bluntly, we either dodge it, ignore it, or engage it.

It’s a juggling act, right? A fine balance of awareness and limitation, advantage lies with fierce commitment to boundaries, freedom, and constant communication. Without these things, we fall complacent to ‘accept’ whatever lands on our doorstep.

This is all reallyhumbling.The ebb and flow for independence still requires more. It calls for a willing heart. Character is a choice, the key to all of it.

So, the question is really this.How do we encourage strong character?

DIY Positive Online Character

Could it be so easy!?

Here are some ideas for inspiring strong character with technology freedom in our homes, including (a parenting perspective).

Determine the Goal:(Independence and Self-regulation. Do our kids understand that the choices they make directly effect their future? What they do is a reflection of who they are, not us. All of this is focused toward autonomy, and we want the best things in life for them. The tricky part is trying to keep that in mind when it’s hectic.)

Determine Reasoning: Why is this the goal?(Our kids are just years away from becoming adults! Like I said, we want the best for their future. But since they’re still kids, what’s the short-term plan? This is where it gets crazy. “Mom, can I get this app?” “Can I watch Youtube?” “I want to get this game.” You know the plea bargaining, — everyone’s kids are doing it. ‘I want more…I want more.’ It’s how we’re wired and it’s how technology is moving. For us, this is where boundaries are a lifeline for reasoning.)

Design Boundaries / Consider the Consequences:(If we can’t discuss the consequences, we can’t allow opportunity. In other words, unless consequences are age-appropriate / something we’re comfortable explaining, it has to be a definite “no.” Everything else can be opportunity for learning. Well, sort of. You know the boundaries I was talking about? They’re different for each of my kids. But no matter what, technology is a privilege. The ability to have a phone, create passwords, download apps, use the internet, all of it — it’s our gift to them. It’s a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ Seriously though…it is. Regardless of all efforts, an attitude of expectation totally sinks their boat. Expectation halts the gifting.)

Create accountability.(This is the big part. Accountability is built on a relationship with trust and respect. Each of our kids has unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Accountability looks different for each one. Our job is to meet them where they are at. We have to pay attention and stay aware. It’s not easy, at all. In addition, we can’t be ignorant to temptation. Even as we work toward trusting relationships, it’s only logical to limit what’s on the plate. We have to set some kind of restrictions. For my family, these have grown to include internet filtering, time and password limits, and other restrictions that manage ratings and content. What kind of limits work for you, for your family?)

Age and experience do not define us. Online identity is powerful.

Every day is a new beginning! Be determined for this, no matter where you are at.

I often wonder, what would it have been like to raise kids 20 years ago? Does every generation feel like their dilemmas are the hardest? When I wish for a manual on modern revolution, I have to remember that it all falls back on the heart. And since the beginning of creation, that has always been. I’m thankful for my faith and the power that prayer has in my life. I don’t center posts around this, sensitive that there are many beliefs. But for me, my faith in God is the greatest source of peace I can ever find.

Together We Thrive!

Ayme