Loaded up with cell phones and other mobile devices, many tweens and teens are spending hours per day connecting with their friends and leaving you in the dust. What are kids really doing, where are they going, and how can you set much-needed boundaries on their cell phone use without starting a major household battle?
If technology is positioned as the enemy, parents could be setting themselves up for countless frustration and struggles. Instead of arguing over tech use, parents and kids should team up to maximize the benefits of tech while not letting it take over their lives.
Kids are curious in nature, and even the most innocent ones raised with good family values can be susceptible to inappropriate content through one click of the mouse. Once seen, a harmful image can’t be unseen, and the content is permanently burned into their memories. Before you take on the task of helping your kids manage their devices, make sure whatever they are using has good parental controls installed--and that can't be interfered with by tech-savvy children! We offer a complete toolbox of free cyber safety resources in our website learning hubs. There’s also great parental monitoring software options, like Family Zone, that can be helpful in blocking websites, explicit photos, inappropriate language, as well as offering location tracking, app and online time management, and more.
Be sure to sit down with your kids and discuss guidelines you would like to set in place, and elicit their input. Communicate clearly and with kindness. Listen to what they have to say. They may surprise you with some of the good ideas of their own! And they are more likely to be on board with rules if they help create them.
If kids see your cell phone and digital tech boundaries as an invasion of their privacy, reassure them it isn’t a matter of trust but rather a matter of love, and that it is your responsibility to protect them and keep them safe.
Last but not least, stay up to date on the tech they may or may not be using, keep the communication lines open and empower them to teach you how to use new tools. They often love being the experts!
To help you get the conversation started, download the infographic below on "5 TIPS FOR KID CELL PHONE SAFETY" and find a good time to sit down together as a family to talk about these ideas and more.
About Cynthia Lieberman: Cynthia Lieberman is co-Founder, CyberWise.org and owner of Lieberman Communications, a content marketing and PR consultancy firm for Fortune 500 companies. Equipped with a graduate degree in Media Psychology and Social Change, Lieberman is a Board of Director for the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). She teaches Social Media Marketing at UCLA Extension and recently served as an Adjunct Professor in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge.