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