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

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

Social Media | Teenage Years

It’s becoming more clear to all of us, just how important relationships are. Media shares stories of instant tragedy all over the world. And with the constant call to wake up, it seems that a lot of us are trading things for time, choosing to be more minimalistic about ‘stuff’.

 

Afternoons in my home are crazy. Not like a bad crazy, but just constant. And I love it — as long as everyone is happy:) Tonight my kids went off to be with their dad for a bit. The sudden contrast, the instant silence, it left me feeling a little sad. The empty house gave me time to organize, and clean. But it was oddly unsatisfying. I was reminded that every moment is a gift, and I don’t want to take time for granted with the ones I love.

The value of relationship is becoming more clear these days. From personal wellness to social impact, we were made to connect and feel, designed to engage. There are sober cues every day. Stories of tragedy from around the world call for a wake up, advise us to be present and live intentionally. Social media has become less useful for venting, and more inspirational toward human kindness. Many of us are trading things for time, stuff for experience, adopting the minimalist’s perspective. What’s the point of it all, if we don’t have each other anyway?

Maybe the conversation about internet safety is hard to have. I get it. Talking with our tweens|teens can be tricky. But the stakes are high. And their path depends on clear insight. They need your attention and your time.

We’re here because we long for character in our homes, integrity online. If you’re looking for some conversation starters, check out the ones posted here on the blog.

Your influence is powerful. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Make the moment perfect.

For regular engagement with We Thrive Online, join on Instagram and Facebook too!

Together we thrive~

Ayme

Disengaged Together | A Family Crisis

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting”? It’s when parents rescue their kids in emergencies, but aim to support independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by and aware. Technology freedom and parenting meet here.

 

Screen time, tech, networking – whatever you call it – the digital world has captivated our attention and our lives. Is it ok? I mean, is it ok to use a screen for almost everything? Do we even have a choice? Time management is hard enough for myself, but as a parent — juggling it for my kids too, it’s a lot of work. This has been one of the greatest challenges for me and Dave. Setting boundaries and sticking to them wears us out. BUT it’s worth it! Every day, every exhausted evening, every prayer…it’s all worth it to us. Let me tell you why.

With just a few clicks, our family can totally disengage from one another, even while sharing the same room. Each of us finds a connection somewhere else. And without boundaries, these connections could easily dull our relationships. What are these new connections, and why are we all so mesmerized?

The digital path leads us places, takes us anywhere we want to go…literally. So we have to ask, “Do we know where our kids are? Do we know what they’re doing?”— even when we sit side by side.That is why we push forward. That’s why the issue of limitations matters to us and why we make an effort for technology boundaries in our home. We are just at the beginning of this process, learning by trial and error. But we believe it is incredibly worthwhile.

I ask myself, how can we monitor all of this…seriously, how? Can we just not have electronics around anymore? Could it really be so easy? I don’t think so. Technology is a growing part of our world and everything we do. It’s even a key component for public school instruction. So, it seems we should all agree on this. Our children need to know the circumference of digital freedoms, that good and ugly exists — before they’re independent users. We can’t defend the digital world as a simple realm anymore…It isn’t. — I’m not saying that kids need details. That could be disastrous. I’m saying, if we let our kids roam, they better have safety gear and survival skills for wherever they’re headed.

How can I talk to my kids without scaring them? I don’t want to say too much or too little. Where’s the line that defines ‘over-protective’ and ‘under-protective’? It seems so different for everyone. I need confidence and a positive approach, so I am ready to lead my kids toward good things. I want any fear that I have to sharpen me. I remind myself that boundaries are stepping stones, not walls. Enforcing rules and protecting our kids is not mean. I have to remember my heart for these little people and our purpose with boundaries. Freedom is meant to be good.

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting?” (Who’s coming up with these terms anyway?) I like this new label. Different from a helicopter parent, the ‘lifeguard parent’ rescues their kids in emergencies, but supports their independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by, and they stay aware. As my kids get older, I want them to know – with certainty – that they are not alone…yet they are becoming strong and independent decision makers. As they reach out, I want to be tuned in enough to warn them when waters become dangerous and help them find safety. We have to pay attention with diligence. Would a lifeguard on duty look away from the station?

In each of our homes, whatever lifestyle we choose, let’s try the best we can to lead our children toward a strong foundation with technology. It will be worth it!