A while ago my sister came to me desperate to find a way to monitor her teenager’s phone activities. I helped her get something installed and she handed the phones back over to her children. Her daughter immediately lost her mind. She told my sister she was ruining her life and cried up in her room for at least the rest of the day. My nephew took it a bit better, but he has always been a stickler for rules. In order to prevent a repeat of that situation, we want to help you introduce filtering and monitoring to your children after they have already had free reign of their devices for a while.
It is an understandable situation to be in. As your child grew a bit, it became time to give them a phone. At the time, you might not have been thinking about the potential dangers the device carried, you just needed a way to get a hold of your child when they were at practice. Now that your child has had the device for a while, you have come to realize how important it is to track, limit and monitor their activity on the device.
Obviously, it’s easier to implement these restrictions as you are handing the device over to your child. This way, your child knows that a requirement to having the device is that there will be restrictions. At this point, your child might be so grateful to receive a device that they are basically willing to agree to anything! For those of you who have missed that opportunity though, how can you approach the situation, so both you and your child are on the same page, and no one ends up in tears?
Sit Down Individually
As evidenced by the situation with my Sister, this can be a very delicate topic to discuss. Each child could have completely opposite reactions. It will be important to meet with them one on one to explain will be happening with their devices. In this private environment, your child should feel comfortable expressing how they feel about the situation without judgment from their siblings. They may need to grieve this new loss of freedom and you should reassure them that their feelings are valid, but aren’t going to change what is going to happen.
Explain the Dangers
As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure children are protected, not only from the world but from themselves as well. You can show them articles about the consequences other teens have experienced due to inappropriate use of social media and devices. Some examples you can use are those who have to register as sex offenders for sexting, and social media being used by predators.
As you explain the dangers that your teen can come across through their devices, also explain that sometimes teenagers don’t see the big picture. In their quest for instant gratification, many teens don’t understand the long-reaching effects some of their actions will have. Let them know that through your monitoring of their devices, you can let them know when they have done something wrong so they can fix it and learn from their mistakes.
Explain Your Job As a Parent
I always tell my kids that my job as a parent is to teach them how to be adults. I need to teach them how to do chores so they can take care of their own apartment or house. I need to teach them how to budget and use money appropriately. I also need to teach them how to be good digital citizens and help them not become addicted to technology.
Through time limits and monitoring, you are helping them figure out that they need to work on homework before they play on social media. You also will be teaching them that they need to put the phone down from time to time and spend moments with the rest of the people in the house. Just make sure your children understand the reasoning behind these new restrictions, and they may feel more comfortable with it.
Go Over the Monitoring Settings and Reports
Once you have explained the reasons you have for limiting their access, it’s time to go over the settings with your child. Show them as you set it up exactly what you will be monitoring and why. You may even allow them to have a say in which apps will be part of the daily time limit, and which ones they should always have access to. Let your child have a couple small victories. Offer to give them 30 minutes of free time every day, and maybe let them talk you into 45 or an hour. Be open and honest with your child about the things you will monitor.
One of the biggest problems children have with these apps is the lack of privacy. They will feel like they will not be allowed to have private conversations with their friends. While that will be mostly true, let them know you won’t be reading every single text they send, cause who has time for that? Just let them know you will randomly be checking in on them, and that should make them think twice about the messages they send. If they truly want privacy, they can pass paper notes like we did in the OLDEN DAYS.
Basically, it will be a difficult conversation, and there is not really an easy way to sugar coat it. Treat your child with respect, help them understand your reasons, and give them a couple small wins, and it should go much more smoothly.