When Kids hang out with Technology

“I sent my 10-year old daughter to a sleepover, and they watched YouTube videos the entire time!” A friend shared her frustration. ‘Aren’t little girls supposed to be telling stories and painting nails?’

We sat together, four moms,in a rare conversation…each with a similar story, an emotional thread to contribute. I don’t have a daughter, but it’s the same with boys. Screen freedom at social gatherings is a much bigger deal than anyone likes to make it. Do you agree?

When kids hang out, are we curious enough about their technology? For the sake of innocence, and guarded for their path, we have to be. What do they see? What do they share? What fills their minds? And how is it affecting them?

From tv shows to video games, YouTube and whatever else, a parent can never fully retrace their child’s experience.

Alongside entertainment, we all know there’s more to consider when it comes to social media. Cyberbullying, social media pranks or dares, explicit sexual content, fake identity, pressure to participate, “nudes” (as kids are calling them), etc. — Morale is challenged at every turn, and it’s taking a toll on us, on our kids, and their friends.

With just one click, people are forever changed. And it’s happening daily.

So what do we do?

I don’t want to go ‘there’ without some kind of resolution.

Do you?

We have to communicate as parents…carefully and honestly. This is a new role for me, and maybe for you too. These are some ideas to think about, and I wonder if you agree. (Also, I’m just beginning to try these things out & know it’s not going to be easy!)

6 Considerations When Talking with Other Parents |Kids & Technology

  • Boundaries~ Decide and communicate them as a family, before expecting anything somewhere else.

  • Respect~ Without concern for one another, a conversation about the kids and devices is a lost cause. If a parent doesn’t show care for another’s values, maybe the kids should keep some distance. It’s not that everyone has to agree, but there should be respect for boundaries.

  • Clear Communication about Expectations ~ This is the tricky one. I mean, it really calls us out of the comfort zone. And personally, I have a lot of growing to do here. If our kids share technology with someone else’s, there has to be an exchange between parents about the details. (Agh, it’s even hard to say that out loud. This isn’t something anyone really does, at least not in my circle.) Here are some things we should agree on~

  • Movie Ratings

  • Internet Access

  • YouTube Viewing

  • Social Media Availability

  • Location of Screens in the Home

  • Time limits or Restraints (esp. at a sleepover)

  • TV Accessibility

  • Video Game Approval

  • Ability to Download or Delete Apps

  • The Possibility of Removing Technology Altogether for the Event

  • Sacrifice for Differences ~ There will be differences. There might be a few, or there might be a lot, but families seldom share exact standards. And if we agree to let our kids hang out with someone else’s, everyone has to feel comfortable. It might take some sacrifice (for our kids and for us).
  • Accountability Assurance~ After expectations are spoken, what kind of monitoring will take place? How will I keep an eye on all of this in my home, and how will they…in theirs.
  • Trust or Distance ~ If we’ve come this far, and still don’t trust a situation forour child (children), distance might be needed. How very difficult this is, we need confidence for their protection.In this season, we’re stunned by the need to speak up. It is so.not.easy. Would you add anything to add to this list?

Join the Conversation~
Together We Thrive!

Ayme

Back to School | Every Kid Needs This

Going back to school is a bigger adjustment than a lot of us might remember. Kids change so much over the summer months, and sometimes drastically! Each of them has a unique story when they return. “Write about something fun you did over the break.” (I can’t help but wonder what mine will say. What will yours? — What are their first thoughts!?)

I want to build sarcasm here, unveil stories of mayhem in my home, a wild blend of chaos and comedy. It doesn’t take long to come up with a response about something fun we did. (I have three boys, so imagine if you will, — or maybe you’re in the same boat. There’s been a lot going on here:)

But what I’m about to share doesn’t follow that lead. I’m writing with a much heavier heart.

You guys, summer isn’t fun for everyone. Regardless of rough patches, you and I might have had a good laugh with our kids, experienced some sort of adventure, or even a sentimental outing — but we know every home is different. Ignorance isn’t bliss, of course, and we need to see beyond our circle.

It’s safe to say, most kids used technology these past several weeks. Their whereabouts varied and broad. Our kids are soon to be sitting in a classroom full of diverse and knowledgeable little people!

While opportunity grows, there’s a scary realization. Some of these classmates have crossed dangerous bounds over the summer break. And maybe their parents have no idea about it. Internet freedom opens doors with little trace, but often leaves internal pain and unresolved emotion. Having seen things that they never should, and done things they regret, many kids return from break with heartache and fear.

And they walk into class, now dressed for success, but taking steps with weighted feet. Unnoticeably, these kids have been transformed within. Regret, shame, and fear are the forefront of their path each day. And for some, this has been happening under the roof of a caring home.

Ugh, well that’s heavy.

I know.

I do know.

It’s heavy for our tender hearts, but imagine how much heavier it is for them. — To feel buried beneath the rubble, to feel isolated and alone, to live fearfully in repercussion. Don’t turn your ear from these things, just because they make you sad. If you feel for the situation, stand up on their behalf!

Technology isn’t the derivative for every situation, but these ideas remind us that some kids will return with hard to handle behaviors, often as a reflection of pain. Classrooms are a melting pot of intricate people, and conflict is only natural.

Support for relationships and peer engagement is a year-round need, but it’s especially crucial after breaks like these. It seems that greatest school supply is a soft heart, empathy.

These are some things I’m aiming to remind my kids about. What would you add?

A Soft Heart | Back to School

  • Everyone is created with purpose and value, and you should honor that.You should never look down on anyone else, and you should respect other people’s differences. How can you respond to others with care, even when they are not kind or easy to understand? How can you communicate with them respectfully?

  • Boundaries are healthy, but they need to be communicated kindly. Learn to work together, yes even with difficult people. You will not get along with every person, everywhere. And that is ok! This will be true for your entire life. Respect is not the same as trust, emotional connection, or vulnerability. Respect is kind, assertive, and thoughtful. You can respect people, without having a friendship.

  • Be a good friend, and find people who reciprocate.Especially at school, friendship becomes confusing. Kids see the same group every day, and it’s hard to discern expectations for relationship. This is how you know and become a true friend: Friends actively seek the best for each other. They use energy to build one another up, and they intentionally encourage the right path for one another. Not everyone at school will be your friend. Keep expectations realistic and meaningful with people around you. Be the kind of friend you want others to be for you.

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember that everyone is experiencing trials, and no one is perfect. When you feel challenged to be kind, ask yourself this question. ‘How would you want to be spoken to, or responded to, if the tables were turned?’

  • Ask for help if you need it. This seems really self-explanatory, but it’s not always a first response, especially as kids get older. They don’t want to tattle, or they feel weak if they can’t handle a situation themselves. But sometimes we need help, and there is nothing bad about that. — Even us adults need to remember, it is more than ok to ask for help!

As we set off toward this new school year, I hope it is a beautiful beginning for you and your family!

As always, thank you for joining here!

Together we Thrive ~ Ayme

Digital Freedom {A Parent's Role}

What ruins a garden left alone?

Weeds

Yep.

They steal nutrients from other plants, creating relentless battle for survival. — And if the annoying little things aren’t pulled, a harvest eventually fails. Crazy huh, when you stop to think about it!

‘Weeds’ are a part of life, for every single one of us. Where do they take root in yours? How about your kids?

Technology is 21st Century’s “soil”. We hear about weed-like behavior online, and it’s growing.

In this year, we’re digital farmers. (Are you following me? 🙂 Take away the family cow and the tractor, you and I have land to tend. — Your kid’s life is a thriving pasture, and negative influences are weeds. ‘Farming’ is a daily thing, and requires more than surface care. Whether or not kids have a phone, digital opportunity is all around; this conversation is for all of us.

You are a ‘digital farmer’.

What kind of labor are you willing to put in here?

The simple fact is this. You know your kids best, their strengths and weaknesses. You are the best farmer for this. So pull the weeds. Do whatever it takes.

The idea that kids need less parenting with age, less time, — it’s not true! Your kids need more of you! They need your commitment. They need your concern. They need your intentional presence. They need B O U N D A R I E S ! — They just need especially gentle tone with delivery. (I’m learning this with crazy speed, bumps, and bruises. You’re so not alone!)

How can I offer independence, without loosing too much grip? What is overstep when it comes to privacy? I want to respect my teen, and I don’t want to push them away.

Amen to all of that. Here are some things to remember.

(I’ve gathered these tidbits over time, & hope they rest well with you too.)

  • Digital support is just one role of parenting, and digital freedom is just one part of teenage independence.Don’t let digital independence define your kid’s judgement of freedom. Do our kids realize how good they have it!? What is their world view? (That’s a whole other post 🙂

  • Screen presence does not define a person’s value.Every one of us is created with purpose. How is technology supporting this? Friends should not be limited to screen engagement, and social media is just one way to connect, etc. Put security in the right things.

  • The Internet is never private.Screenshots and social networking make everything permanent. Everything you say and do online can be saved and shared, forever. (For me, for you, for every single person.)

  • Use passwords to protect, not to liberate.Passwords aren’t for privacy between parent and child. Password privacy is ultimate freedom!When your kids have password control, they are free to explore wherever they please.(Temptation will arise, no matter how trusting your kids are!)

  • Teenagers want to be heard. Listen before you speak, and they will be quicker to hear you out. (Eek, so convicting for me. Slow down, and listen ~)

  • Set clear boundaries. Stick to them. And review them often. Kids like to know what’s expected of them.

  • L O V E  ~  T H E M  ~  F I E R C E L Y  (Spend time. Communicate. Accept. Support. Be available. Know them. Know their friends and their interests.)

  • Be thoughtful. “You are what you think.”

  • Build on the positive. Help your kids see that you are “for them” and not against them, especially when things don’t go their way. (Disappointments will come. Offer hope as a shield. What is their anchor when things go awry?)

  • Don’t battle for supremacy.So many times a battle for independence can blind our focus on what matters most. When we parent for their good, not our own, perspective is right. (Another note to self!)

  • Pull you own weeds too. Examples often speak louder than words.

What would you add to this? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share. Let this be a community of support.

Together we T H R I V E ~

Til next time!

~ Ayme

Imperfect, Intentional Parenting

It’s hard to talk about these things with other parents, face to face. I don’t know many people who get together and strategize internet safety. Its’s not an easy chat, don’t you agree? I haven’t found some kind of golden path to perfection. Our family is imperfect, but doing the best we can! We’re working toward relationship & connection. Who has a checklist for that? For those of you who share this vision, trying to work out details for a digital home, I hope you find comradery here!

I’m just going to say it, the Internet scares me sometimes, a lot. I started writing here because I believed awareness was something important, but didn’t understand how much until recent months. Lately, I’ve realized more about a dark reality that should never exist. And so often, I can’t even bring myself to share facts; they’re incomprehensible. Would it be better to simply not know? Should I just call it a wrap, toss in the towel, because victimization wrecks my emotions?

But ignorance only weakens us.

Modern kids, yours and mine, hold a new deck of cards. Their ability to outsmart older generations with tech-y skills has caught a lot of us off-guard. And in some ways, it’s caught them off-guard too. How many times could (or do) they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, without knowing how? Truth is, most kids aren’t looking for trouble when they find it.

Digital freedom tests values with independence, and I’m not willing to send my tribe off with loose grip. Are you?

Do whatever it takes for clear vision, because what’s out there is fierce and fiery.

It’s hard to talk about all of this with other parents, face to face. I don’t know many people, if any, who get together and strategize internet safety. — not an easy chat, right? (We can’t bear the thought of ill intent.)

I haven’t found a path to perfection. My home isn’t a well-oiled machine. (I actually fear judgement that might come with writing here.) We are an imperfect family, doing the best we can, praying for guidance. We teach, lead, hope & pray for our kids, but can never force their choices. All of us are imperfect. But we can be intentional too.

As I write, you’ll notice caution about details of my kids’ journeys. Their experiences and mistakes are not mine to share…so if ever these posts cross the line, I would have to retreat. This isn’t just our family. It’s all-of-us! Internet safety relies on relationship, and that’s what this conversation is all about.

What you can expect here is a blend of life experience, personal reflection, and delicate accountability. If it’s your too vision, join along!

Together we Thrive!

~Ayme