I’ve been asked by parents several times in the past few weeks for help. Help sorting out an issue with some piece of technology. Help in finding an app to monitor their kid’s phone. If you know anything about me, you know I love answering these types of questions. I love it when parents take an active role in managing their kid’s technology. In fact, the whole point of this site for me is to help parents with exactly that.
I think there has been an incredible advancement in the way we interact with and use technology. I also think there have been some great advances in the way we as parents can keep track of our kids and how they are using those technologies.
I love getting the call from friends about how to set up parental controls on their child’s phone. I think it’s imperative to install a device like The Circle at your home to prevent devices from accessing certain content. If you need to monitor what your kids post to social media and what they are saying to their friends, there are apps that will help you do that.
But simply doing those things isn’t enough. In fact, I believe that should be used as a backstop and not a first line of defense. You as the parent are the first line of defense. Your conversations with your kids on the dangers of the Internet should be the first thing they think of when they see something they shouldn’t. Not whether mom is going to see it on my weekly accountability report.
Too often we rely on the technology to be the decision maker or the safeguard. That job should fall to us as parents. Technology shouldn’t be the instructor, it’s just a tool we should use. We need to be the definers and shapers of our children’s character and moral compass. Good technology can help us do that.
There is nothing better for your kid than a good conversation about the why behind the what. It’s that way regardless of the topic. We tell our kids why it’s a good idea not to run with scissors. We tell our kids the dangers of drinking and driving. Why would it be any different with the Internet?
When we set up The Circle at our house, we sat down with our kids and told them what it was, what it did, and why we were installing it. It gave us a great opportunity to discuss both the good and the bad of the Internet. It provided them an open door to tell us when they saw something that made them uncomfortable. Most importantly, it told them that we care deeply about them.
When they understand the why behind the what, they hear your desire for their heart. They hear the care you have for their character. It doesn’t become “another way mom and dad control me.” Instead, it begins a relationship-building conversation that extends well beyond their childhood years.
If you haven’t started that conversation with your kids, I urge you to do so. If you already have the parental controls in place, or The Circle set up, and haven’t talked about why, do it tonight! It will be the best thing for their hearts to hear yours.
If your house is full of constant fighting centered around compulsive technology use or Snapchat snafus or sexting or pornography and you feel like it’s too late, I promise it’s not. It’s never too late to change the conversation. Our kids want us to be the parents they need. If you need help and it feels out of control, send me a message. I would love to help. There are many tool and resources for that situation I can point you towards.
No matter what, talk to your kids. Be their guide. With today’s constantly changing technology, they need you now more than ever.