How is it that kids know the exact worst time to ask parents for things like downloading the newest, greatest, and most popular social media app?
One of the most common woes I hear from parents is that they allowed their child to download an app that they did not know much about and now they wish they had not given their approval. I’ll ask them why they agreed to it. the is usually something like:
She caught me at a bad time. I was in the middle of 5 different things and very distracted. I said no but she told me it was ok, safe, and that she was the ONLY one of her friends who didn’t have it. So I just gave in. Now that I know more about it, I really wish I hadn’t, but it is so hard to backtrack on this.
When to allow kids various privileges with technology is a big decisions. It requires education, thought and discussion. These cannot and should not be made in the heat of the moment. They should not be influenced by factors like ‘everyone else is doing it’. These are decisions that are difficult on which to back track. It is not impossible to reverse the decision and pull back on technology privileges but it usually comes with a high price of conflict with your child.
Long before we had GPS and Google maps, we would never embark on a long road trip without a map or plan of how we were going to get there. Similarly, regardless of where your child is with technology, it is never too late to think through what the plan is for rolling out the various aspects of technology for your child. Create a digital road map for the technology road trip you are about to take with your child.
Here are some things to consider when creating this plan:
- What age will you allow your child to interact on the Internet unsupervised?
- What age will you allow your child a device that can access the Internet, like an iTouch or iPad?
- What age will you allow your child a smartphone?
- What are the rules around the smartphone? Time limits? Data limits? Access to the web?
- Is the smartphone allowed in the bedroom?
- Where will the smartphone be at bedtime?
- What age will you allow your child to use social media, like Instagram, Facebook, Musical.ly, Snapchat, etc?
- How will social media activity be monitored? Will you follow them on the site? Will usernames and passwords be shared with you?
- Will monitoring software be used? i.e. My Mobile Watchdog, Teensafe, Circle by Disney, etc.
- How will inappropriate online behavior be handled?
Like all parenting decisions, these are highly personal with many variables to be considered within the family. Thinking through some of these questions will help you make solid decisions in a calm frame of mind and help you avoid the pressure packed poor decisions that many parents later regret. The other great advantage to creating a digital road map is that it sets your child’s expectations. Once the expectations are set, kids tend to reduce the amount of badgering they will do to get what they want. It will also provide them with a clear idea of when they will be given certain technology privileges. While it might seem like a lot of work up front, people who have taken this approach have told me over and over again, how much easier it was on everyone in the family in the long run!