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

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

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

Digital Summer for Families

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em

Know when to walk away

And know when to run ~

Ah, Kenny Rogers…so wise 😉 Truth be told, ‘How to play the hand’is a question for all of us.

Parents/caretakers, you and I hold similar cards with “screen time, ” and we’re all-in. Digital life is definitely a part of summer fun, & something worth planning for. Are you ready!?

As kids grow more independent and capable, assertive in their own right, every season looks different from the previous, and this conversation does too. I’m learning my way through tween-&-teenage years right now, and digital independence is a hot topic in our home. Shared perspective isn’t very easy at this stage. (not that it ever really was…but sometimes I think we need an interpreter. Ha, just kidding {?} Anyone relate? 🙂

Screen bargaining makes for a stressful home, so we need clarity from the start. With that said, I’ve come up with a few ideas (sharing here for comradery). Thinking it through was my first step. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What works for you?

Create a plan.

It’s going to be worthwhile. In your home, what are everyone’s

thoughts about healthy boundaries with technology?

Communicate the plan and Commit.

Our kids and everyone who is going to be taking care of them should have clear expectations this summer. (Surprises aren’t fun when it comes to this.)

Support the plan.

What are the consequences if boundaries are crossed? Are you going to give more

time or freedom for chores or other things?

4 Steps to a Safe Digital Summer || F A M I L I E S

Digital Freedom | Apps | Downloads | Media

(Saying yes, no, and maybe so…)

  • What kinds of digital activity are you allowing for your kids? Why?

  • How do your kids ask for new apps or games? (Can they approve downloads themselves, or do you talk about it first?)

  • What filters/screen-monitoring do you have in place?

  • Do you have strong passwords for the internet, Youtube, and other social media? (Guys, this is a really big deal. There is a lot of support surrounding this need.)

  • How much time is given to gaming vs. productivity when they are on screens? (Technology can be advantageous in so many ways. That’s easy to forget when you’re young and free of commitments.)

  • What kinds of purposeful things can technology be used for this summer? (What are your kids interested in? What kind of apps do they want to download? Is there a real-life skill they could be building on here? Summer is a good time to get to know each other better and encourage individuality.)

Technology At Home

(ClearExpectations)

  • What kind of time restrictions do you have for screen use? Or –‘’What do you want them to be?” might be the better question. (I know it is for me.)

  • Can your kids earn more time, or less, based on attitude or helpfulness? (This sounds like some kind of Pinterest idea that I never got to when my kids were younger. The charts and stickers and all of that was intimidating to keep up with. Why does it have to be so elaborate? It doesn’t!)

  • How are expectations at home communicated? (Do or don’t do a chart. We’re all different. What works for you?)

  • Where do devices go when they aren’t in use? Do you have a charging station or something like that?

  • A written plan | “Technology Contract”  I’ve always thought the idea of a family contract for screens is a good idea. It’s never too late to start! Instead of being discouraged that we never did, our family’s going to begin this summer. There are a ton of ideas for how to do this. {I’ll be posting mine on the blog soon! – because that’s my accountability to get it done.} Do you have one for your family?

Technology Away From Home

(Trust, Limits, & Reason)

  • What kind of networking are your kids doing when they are with friends, a team, or other childcare?

  • Have you communicated internet safety enough with your kids? Do they know when something isn’t safe or appropriate? (With so many different family values and spectrum of choices, what kind of foundation do they stand on?

*Sleepovers are a big part of this. I’ve read plenty of articles, even one is enough, about first time & ongoing exposure to pornography, pedophilia, or bullying at sleepovers. When we send our kids off to stay with someone else, there needs to be peace of mind here! I felt really inspired after reading this post by Monica Swanson. I’m working on some ideas for our family in this area. Communication between parents is a super big must.

Technology Role Modeling

(Actions vs. Words)

It’s one thing to set limits for the kids, but how about us? Eek. I’m so convicted. Can I shut it all off in a moment’s notice? We’re telling our kids to get outside and curbing their screen habits, but what about ours? In a perfect world, I’d be self-controlled here. I’d set aside limited time each day for technology. I think we all would.

Our kids will be watching us this summer, taking cues about how we manage time. (It’s honestly one of the greatest challenges for me as a parent.) But that’s not a bad thing. It’s ok when our kids see us struggle here. Maybe it gives them a chance to support us too!

I know that having a plan for all of this is going to make summer a lot more fun, and that’s what it’s all about! Counting down the days now:)

As always, thank you for joining here!
Together we thrive~

Ayme

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Summertime Parenting (You Got This!)

Whenever school breaks approach, parents have to up their game. Suddenly, there’s a load of free time to manage. And we need a solid plan. Summer is currently making it’s way. And I’ve got a range of emotions. I’m sure you do too. A little nervous, hopefully excited, but also maybe a bit scared! (ha)

This time of year can be the best for our kids, and us, but the right approach is key. ‘How should we manage all this free time?’ Also, some of us might be thinking, ‘Lord, keep me sane.’

I was going to write this post as a lead for creative ideas. But I don’t think that’s what we need anymore. Instead, let’s focus on you.

In this journey of life, and parenthood, unrealistic goals are among a list of things pecking at our joy. It’s easy to get distracted, tempting to compare. And in the mix, we forget this simple truth. Every family has strengths & weaknesses that do not parallel others. Yours. Mine. — The dynamics of each home are uniquely knit. And in this place you dwell, YOU are the sharpest commander. How can you own it? –  “like a boss” – as my kids say.

The best starting point for summer planning, for all of us, is honest and true home connection. As parents, each of us is best fit for this job. No one can replace you. No one else can piece together a better summer than Y-O-U.

I encourage you to take a close look at your kids before you make any plans. Halt the camp sign-ups, the summer sports team registration, and everything else. How can you use this time to meet your kids right.where.they.are? I’m doing the same.

A few thoughts to get us started…

  • What are my child’s strengths and interests?

  • What has my child been struggling with this year?

(Ok, stop right there. If we can’t answer these questions, we really just need to go get an ice cream with them and hang out!) Here are a few more for later…

  • What types of things show love to my child? (Have you read about love languages? It’s amazing how different out needs can be!)

  • Does my child prefer to spend time at home or outside?

  • How can I support my child in building healthy friendships?

  • How can I encourage my child toward independence?
  • How can I connect with my child?

  • What does my child need to improve with before their next school year?

  • What types of values do I want to encourage while my child is at home?

I know this post isn’t focused on technology, and obviously that’s what this blog is really about. But without connection and relationship, any conversation about technology is loosely gripped. What are your thoughts about managing screen time in the summer months? I’ll share mine soon.

Together We Thrive! ~ Ayme

Social Media | For Parents

Given a chance to do something differently, who wouldn’t swipe the opportunity? I can cite some very exact moments from my past that I’d change in a heartbeat. How about you?

What if you had opportunity to re-do something from the past, change or improve one moment in time? What would it be? We all have something. I can instantly name more than a handful. How about you?

Try to think of one in particular, — maybe an embarrassing event, or a phase you went through…or just a dumb choice that led to a heap more. How old were you when it happened? My guess is you were in your late teens or early 20’s.

Now imagine if it had been documented, – photos, video, and all. Imagine if your most regretful act was now available for replay, indefinitely. — I’d rather not. But maybe yours was.

Today, moments in time are captured without hesitation, and instantly made permanent. It’s scary, for all of us, and especially when it comes to kids and teenagers. Science tells us that their brains are still developing the ability to measure consequences. Yet, they are sharing photos and words, often in moments of impulse, in forms that remain accessible long-term. What will they think in 10 years, if these things reappear?

Modern pre-teens and young adults are naturally as immature and prone to poor judgement as we were. It’s why age is the determination for freedoms within our society. Psychological and emotional readiness take time, and rushing the process can lead to permanent damage, both emotionally and physically.

Exposure to mature and complicated media is not something to take lightly.

Suppose your 13-year-old daughter comes to you and says, “I’ve got this. I’ve been watching you drive for years.” Do you hand her the keys? What if your 15-year-old says he’s going with some friends to the drive-in, one next to a strip club, …do you let him go along? You guys, when we leave our kids on their own with internet freedom, the door is open to situations like these.

It’s tricky online because boundaries aren’t always enforced, followed, or even determined. When it comes to social media, we share a platform where every user follows different rules, or none at all.And as parents, we can’t pretend to know about everything out there.

Accessibility is constantly changing. From private messages to texting, Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Minecraft, etc. we have to be on guard. The conversation requires heart-centered, truthful conversation, a will for strong character.

Here are some thoughts, as we consider the impact and depth of media freedom for our kids.

Boundaries / Expectations with Connection

  • What kind of purpose does your son/daughter have with the media they choose, and what are the exact boundaries to keep this focus? Do you agree with their thoughts?

  • If this is how they are connecting with friends, how will they respond to invitation from acquaintances or people they don’t know?

  • Is social media taking priority over in-person connection? How are you helping managing the time and establish limits?

  • What kind of acceptance are they expecting with social media?

  • Is your son/daughter relying on the approval of others for self-worth? Is a calculation of likes, comments, and followers a predominant concern for them?

  • Do you want your child to connect with others using social media?

Behavior

  • Does your son/daughter understand what is acceptable behavior? — Can they recognize when something is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical?

  • Would your son/daughter have the wits not to post or respond to something that is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical? How would they respond when friends do?

  • Is your son/daughter hanging around people who would post inappropriately?

  • Do your son/daughter’s friends understand what is acceptable behavior? Would they try to post anything to embarrass or hurt your child? (When our kids spend time with other kids who have social media, their actions are most likely documented.)

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s behavior with social media?

Images / Permanence

  • Social media opens the door for your child to view pornography, violence, and other graphic images. How can they avoid this? Do the apps and websites they use have filtering? — Does it work?

  • Would your son/daughter search for pornography, violence, and other graphic images if they could?

  • What kinds of photos and videos is your son/daughter posting? Do they understand the permanence with it?

  • Would your son/daughter be ok if you saw every thing they were posting?

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s judgement with posting?

Cyberbullying

  • Does your son/daughter know what cyberbullying is?

  • Has your son/daughter ever experienced this? — Are you sure?

  • Would your son/daughter bully someone online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied them online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied someone else online?

  • Do you feel comfortable with how your child would respond to cyberbullying?

Feelings / Self-Esteem / Self-Actualization

  • Does your son/daughter have a healthy self-image? Do you talk with them about it?

  • Does your son/daughter have other kind of engagement with people aside from social media?

  • Is your son/daughter feeling pressured to use social media because it is popular, or do they really enjoy it?

  • Do you feel that social media is a resource that builds your child up? Is it supporting their fullest potential?

Here are some extra links that I found helpful for all of this.

Together We Thrive!

~ Ayme

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201703/why-social-media-is-not-smart-middle-school-kids

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html#

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/social-media-monitoring-kids

http://www.bewebsmart.com/parental-control-links/

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Social-Networking-100.aspx

Intentionality with Social Media

 

“Be intentional.” — What does that mean anyway? Purposeful, deliberate, pre-meditated, — they’re interchangeable. Sounds ideal, but how does it play out with technology?

“Intention” is basically a fancy way of saying, “think about what you’re doing.” Like, ‘stop wasting time’, and ‘don’t do something you’re going to regret’. There are a lot of other cliche’ phrases that come to mind. But I don’t want this one to lose meaning. I don’t want overuse to dilute it.

My previous post highlighted the receiving end of un-friending, a familiar experience that comes with social media. It showed howpowerful virtual acceptance (and rejection) can be, and how it affects our emotions. Sense of connection persuades overall health and is one of our basic needs. So we need to think this through. – How can we do ‘virtuality’ well, you know, and stay on track?

It seems logical to compare digital efforts with physical fitness. Both require focus, effort, strategy, and consistency. We wonder, “is there a universal plan for diet and exercise?” And the obvious answer is, “of course not.” In the same, we can’t expect to have one for technology either. Digital health is unique and individual; it depends on each person’s experiences and needs. Social media has different effects on all of us, and we need to realize our own limitations and indulgences with it.

While a one-size-fits-all plan does not exist, there are definitely common areas for each of us to consider when it comes to this stuff. Take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a starting point. Thinking about how social media relates to these basics is really helpful.

Social Media | Human Needs

Physiological (basic survival needs, just to stay alive)

Do we “need” social media for survival? No, but the effects that come with it definitely play a role here. Emotional impact can confuse sleep & hunger patterns, mental stability, and stress levels, etc. Social media can have a powerful influence with everyday function.

On another thought, we need survival skills for social media. Yes!

Safety (a sense of security)

This is probably the most popular concern that people talk about with social media. From mal-intended chatting to pornography addiction and identity theft, the list just grows. Safety awareness is on the rise.

You’ve probably heard a range of stories, like ones of people who’ve posted vacation photos, only to come home and find they have been robbed. That’s pretty crazy. And then the more serious examples of car wrecks and such, we hear about them a lot. Geotagging and location services call for some thought too. — I mean, why do we find ourselves posting personal whereabouts to hundreds of people? We need some caution here.

Let’s break it down even more, think about everyday posts. Details aren’t usually at the forefront of our posts, but they matter. Our sense of security is a huge consideration with social media. Privacy settings are there for a reason. ~

One last thought about security. Internally, I wonder how much of our self-worth (self-confidence and self-care) depends upon digital connection. Food for thought.

Love / Belonging (friendship, trust, and relationship)

This right here. It’s the heart of our conversation. We don’t talk about this much with other people. Yet, it all centers here. No matter what reason we use social media (business, personal, etc.) or to what extent, here are a few questions to self about digital relationships.

How am I contributing toward relationship with others, and what am I gaining? What level of vulnerability is acceptable for me? How authentic am I being with others? How much and what kind of sharing is appropriate? Do I have healthy boundaries with how I define relationship status with others?

Self-Esteem (status and attention; sense of accomplishment)

Social media can really build us up here, especially if we have a large following. Public posting of accomplishments and photos with bragging rights are all over this. But what if we don’t desire a huge following? Or what if we want one, but can’t grow it?

Self-Actualization (achieving full potential; meeting personal goals; success with hobbies and interests)

Individuality (identity) is the focus with most things digital. It’s literally a “my world, my way” mode. But we don’t always realize it. It begins small, with a simple device, — first color and design preference, then the apps and the settings, etc. And however deliberate, we ultimately define the boundaries, or lack thereof, by which to live. We literally say “yes I approve” or “no I don’t” with every download, deciding what is acceptable, and what is not, for our own standards. In the process of managing preferences, it’s easy to tune out differences of others around us. We can totally lose touch with reality if we aren’t careful. Even with the best motive, we can grow to idolize the image of digital identity.

The pinnacle thought here is this. Does social media encourage me to grow into full potential? & Is my self-actualization based on reality?

I have 3 kids of my own and a class full on weekdays. This is a huge topic for them. (These ideas are challenging in the middle of adolescence.) Please subscribe to receive the next post {Part 3: Youth and Social Media}.

Thanks for joining me here.I hope you are encouraged by these posts.~

Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~Ayme