With summer looming and idle time high for many students, we are re-posting this popular series, Raising Kids in the Digital Age. This is part 3 of 3. Feel free to check out part 1 here and part 2 here.
Just to recap, we started this series inviting you to “imagine the end”. Your child is now out from your house and on their way to adulthood. You have been raising them all these years for this moment; to help launch them into adulthood. But before we get into restrictions related to technology we have to go back and remember why we are doing this. Here’s a great quote to remind us:
“Don’t forget the end game: As parents of teenagers, we are trying to raise adults. We’re more interested in wisdom than compliance, more interested in responsibility than in high walls of protection, and more interested in healthy parent/teen communication than maintaining a veneer of good appearances.”
Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane
The goal is that as our children sit in their college dorm room or venture out into to life on their own, they are ready for the moment. This isn’t about control, this is about preparation and wisdom. If we wait to give kids the power to decide and learn from their mistakes until they leave our home, then we have waited way too long.
Of course, life might be easier if we make sure they only make the choices we want them to make, but that is not what we are interested in here. We want to give them the opportunity to try and fail under our guidance. If we wait to give them the power to choose when they are 18 and on their own, then the stakes are much higher.
(However – and this is just one man’s opinion – You may choose to stick with the “until your 18 and out of the house, you have to do what I say” approach, but we all know what happens when they turn 18.)
So, now we are on the same page – regulation is about building wisdom and guiding them towards adulthood – so, let’s get into some practical ideas.
Here’s a few words of warning to consider as we begin:
1. Be careful about confrontation. As much as possible try to make this a mutual experience. If they perceive this is about control, most likely they will shut down and continue doing what they are doing in secret.
2. Secondly, I’m not discussing internet safety here and it would be worth your time to look into that as well.
3. Finally, know that no perfect parents are needed for this process. All you need is to be willing to enter into the mix. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it to be engaged.
FIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR REGULATION:
- Make Access to Social Media a Rite of Passage. Set an age for when they can access certain social media and celebrate it. Work with them to set up their profiles and accounts and use your conversations surrounding it to teach them what you think is important. If you start this process together, it will be easier to stay engaged.
- Create a Family Agreement. Work together on this document and make decisions with your child. The more this can be mutually shared, the better the results will be. Remember our survey from part 1 – (how kids thought their parents were just as addicted…) – there might be some rules you create for yourself as a part of this process. Ultimately, this document should reflect you protecting them as a child and fostering their movement toward adulthood.
- Require Them to Give You Their Passwords and Periodically Check on Them. Typically, “the more secretive the practice, the more dangerous the situation.” This goes for you as well! Don’t make your checking on them a secret. You may do this often when they are just getting started and not at all when they are 17/18.
- Check In Devices at Bedtime. Kids need sleep and temptation is often worse at night. I realized in preparing for this that I often spend time on my phone right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Since then, I have purchased an alarm clock to get my phone off my nightstand.
- Consider Regulating Screen Time Alone in Their Rooms. This falls in line with the other suggestions above, but worth considering on it’s own. Determine what is allowed and what isn’t and stick to it!
- BONUS SUGGESTION: Have a No Tech Hour or Day! Take a sabbatical together. Make it a day where you do something out of the ordinary and everyone leaves technology at home. You too, parents!
Will this be easy…not necessarily, especially if your kids are already immersed in it. However, it is worth it to be engaged. Take some time and figure out what you would like this to look like in your home and then get in the game!
If you have any great suggestions on this topic, feel free to post them in the comments section.