Do you worry about what your child does on the internet?
Do you feel like they are always distracted by their phone or computer screen?
It’s time to take back control.
This article is for parents who want to know what online dangers exist, and what they can do about them.
We will discuss what happens when a parent doesn't have control of their child's technology usage, and how to manage it at every age.
We've all been there, haven't we? Your teen needed a laptop for school and we were in two minds about what to do.
Should we let them use it for school and not worry about what they're doing online?
Should we have a set time every day when the laptop is theirs alone, or should our teens be limited in what sites they can visit?
The only thing that was clear to us as parents, that if you don't set some sort of boundaries, they will be online for hours on end.
But what is the right boundary?
We'll get into that in a minute...
So, now they have their brand new laptop, but it seems as though they're constantly online.
If you're not looking at what they are doing, it will be hours before they stop what they're doing to do what's required of them.
Worse still, social media seems to have completely taken over their lives.
What's The First Thing We Can Do?
The first thing to do is open a dialogue with them.
Find out what you can do to help manage their time online, and what they think would be a good idea too.
This is where boundaries come in. If we set some guidelines for what they are allowed to do on the computer, it will make things much easier later on in life when our kids have more freedom.
We can allow them access to what they want, but only for a certain amount of time.
Set their screen time limits and what sites they are allowed on so that it's more manageable.
This will also mean we know what is happening when our kids go online - which in turn means no nasty surprises!
It's crucial they understand what the dangers are online, and what to do if they come across them.
Start with what's appropriate for their age group, then work up as they get older.
There will be more than one conversation about this topic before your child is old enough to take care of themselves!
No One's Perfect At This!
Just remember, you're not the first parent to struggle with your teen's online viewing habits.
We're all in this together, and what works for one teen may not work for the next.
Be open to feedback about what their limits should be on different sites, what time they're allowed online each day, etc., and don't forget that it's ok if you can't do everything at once!
Don't give up what's what, and do what you can today!
How Did You Manage With Their First Smartphone?
I'm guessing that you probably came across the same problem when they got their first smartphone.
It all seems to be much more complicated than it used to be when we were kids!
We had a phone that could make and receive calls, send texts or emails - but now? It's like every app on the planet has been developed just for them!
The good news is, you're not alone in this.
Many parents are unsure what to do when their child comes home from school asking for a phone of their own...
And that's what we'll be discussing next week! Stay tuned!
If You Haven't Already Done It, Consider These Measures Now:
- Set screen time limitations and what sites they are allowed on so that it's more manageable.
- Set what you can do to help manage their time online and what they think would be a good idea too.
- Have a conversation with them about what the dangers of being online are for their age group.
Understand The Tech For Yourself
It's a really good idea for you to keep up to date with what's happening in the world of technology.
That way, you'll be better able to answer your child's questions when they come home from school and ask what a certain app is for or what it does - this will also help them understand what each site can do too!
It may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but at the end of this article, you'll find some great resources to start learning what's what.
Remember that it will take time for them to adjust, and what works for one teen may not work for another!
Just be open about the feedback they give on what their limits should be on different sites, what time they're allowed online each day, etc.
The Different Ways to Manage Your Child’s Online Life
We briefly mentioned this, so let's dive deeper into what these are.
It can be overwhelming to set boundaries for your child's screen time, but it will make things much easier later on in life when our kids have more freedom.
We all know that technology and social media are their first love - so why not give them what they want? But only after we've taken some time to manage what they get and how much they can have.
It's crucial that we know what is happening when our kids go online - which in turn means no nasty surprises!
And what better way for them to learn what those dangers are than from us? That's right, Mum or Dad needs to take the lead on this!
It's what we do as a parent, and what we should be doing.
We can't expect them to take care of themselves until they're old enough - so what are you waiting for? Take back control today!
Here's a list of boundaries to set:
- what sites they are allowed on
- what time of day they can be online
- what apps to turn off
- what time they can go to bed
- what they have to do before using the internet
- what counts as screen time and what doesn't
- what games are ok on their phone or tablet
Ask your child questions about their online experience with no judgment
Take a more balanced view when asking what they think about what's going on online.
There are great resources to help you out with this, so make sure that you're not taking control of what your child does or doesn't do when it comes to social media and technology.
If we want them to have more independence later in life - which is what a lot of parents want - then it's important that we let them learn what they need to know about what their limits are too.
Don't Hide Your Child From The World of Technology
The world is changing, and so must we!
We're not fighting the good fight by trying to shield our kids from what everyone else knows how to do.
Instead, what we should be doing is showing them what they can do to be safe and what's out there for them.
It's our job as a parent to guide them through this like any other difficult part of life - but we have the benefit of being able to help with what happens online too!
We're their first line of defense and what better way to start than by talking with them about what's out there?
Don't Let Your Kids Know You're Checking Up On Them
This is one thing we need our kids to know - that they can talk.
It may be hard for us as parents, but it will make things a whole lot better if we give them what they want and what they need: a space to talk about anything without being judged.
This is how you teach your child that what's happening online doesn't have any bearing on what happens in the real world, because it isn't their fault.
Not only this but checking up on what they do online can lead to a lot of hurt feelings if they find out what we're doing.
Take the time to teach them - and not just about what's happening on their phone, computer or tablet!
It Takes Time To Adjust To New Rules
We all know that it takes some getting used to when parents start setting boundaries for what kids can do.
But what's most important is that we stay consistent with what we tell them - and what they see us doing too!
The more rules you have the better, so don't be afraid to set new ones as your child grows up or learns what their limits are in life.
It will make things a whole lot easier for you in the end.
Conflicts with what your child wants will happen, but if you are consistent and stay calm then they'll get used to what's happening too.
Ask your teen what other kids are doing
This is quite a clever way to broach this subject - and what better way to find out what's happening than from a teenager themselves?
The next best thing is that you can ask them what the kids at their school are doing - but this may not be an option.
By asking your child what they do in front of friends or other peers, then it will give you some insight to what's happening and what they might do next.
This will help you figure out what needs to be addressed, or what you need to know about in order for them not to get into trouble online.
You could also clarify (without too much enthesis) what the newest apps everyone is talking about are.
This will make sure you're aware of what's happening with what your child is doing, and what they might be exposed to next.
You can't protect them forever - so it's better that we understand what the risks really are before anything happens!
Knowing the main apps kids are using allows you to gen up on what's happening.
Ask your teen: “Have you ever seen anything online that disturbed you?
As parents, we're often the last ones to hear what's happening with what our child is doing online.
This may be because we're not paying enough attention, but it can also be that they are very good at hiding what they do from us!
If this happens then let them know you'll talk to them about what happened when the time is right - and don't push them to talk about what's on their mind.
No one likes being pushed, and it may not be what they need right now.
Next, if you're concerned or have any questions then ask! Prepare yourself for what might happen - because we all know that the internet is anything but predictable!
If Your Child Is Talking To A Stranger Online
Did you just get a shiver down your spine? Yep, this is probably a parent's worst nightmare come true.
If you find out what happened then talk with your child about what this means and what they should do next time it happens to them or someone else - because we all know that there will be a next time!
If this has happened, you first need to be understanding and show what you're feeling - it's okay to let them know that this is scary for you too.
Then reassure your child and remind them what they should do next time.
You could also look at some of the websites or apps which can be used when meeting other people online so that if anything does happen then they'll know what to do.
This will help them feel more in control and not so scared of what might happen next!
How To Manage Screen Time At Every Age
The first you need to do when trying to manage your teen's screen time is try to set an example for what they should do.
When you're at home what are you doing?
Are you on your phone, watching TV, or playing a video game?
It's important to be conscious of what we do as well so that our kids will follow suit!
You'll also need to clarify what is meant by "screen time" - it can be what they watch, what they play or anything else that's on the screen.
Once you've set what time is appropriate then it will start to snowball and become easier for them to understand what limits are - because why should we have different rules for ourselves than we do for our kids?
You'll also need to decide what you'll do when they break the rules and what the consequences are.
You set these boundaries for them, so it's important that you can follow through with what happens next - as their respect will depend on what we're willing to put up with!
No one likes a hypocrite, especially our kids who know all too well how to point out what we're doing wrong.
If you find yourself struggling to think of what the consequences might be then take a look at what happened when your child disobeyed that rule - and try not to make it any worse than what's already been done!
Whatever you decide, it's always a good idea to sit down and discuss what the consequences will be - in a calm and relaxed environment.
Let your child know what you expect, but also what they can do if it doesn't go well or what to do next time that happens.
It's important for them to feel like we're on their side and supporting them no matter what!
Then, come to a mutual agreement on what will happen next!
This is a great time to involve them in what the consequences of their actions are and what they can do instead.
If you want your child to be more responsible then it's important that we're always on their side no matter what.
They need us just as much as we need them, so let's take what we're doing and make it better together!
You could also create "screen-free zones" in the house where they can't go if what we're trying to teach them doesn't work - because sometimes it's what you don't have that inspires what you need!
Or find out more about the apps and websites which are designed for screen-free moments where your child can do something else so that they'll actually love being unplugged.
Speak with like-minded parents
Just remember, you're not alone in what it's like to have a child who is online all the time - so get in touch!
There are plenty of websites, apps, and groups for parents which can help you with what you're trying to do.
Oftentimes other parents will show you what's worked for them and what they've found to be the best way of dealing with what their kids do online.
There are also lots of support groups that can help you track what your child is doing so that you're always one step ahead!
If this has happened then find out what other parents have done - it will help you to understand what the best course of action is.
You'll also find loads of different websites which provide advice on how to track what's going on with their devices so that you know what they're up to.
Don't forget that if we give them what they want as long as what they do on screen doesn't cross into what needs to stop - then our kids will be more likely to listen and follow through with what we say.
It's what happens when we don't put in the extras - like discipline and boundaries - that they'll find a way to push back against what needs to happen.
Replace online time with family time
By placing limits and clear boundaries on what's acceptable when it comes to what we allow our kids to do online, then they'll be more likely to listen and follow through.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way of getting what you want is by giving them what they need!
Over time you'll find that you will replace online time with more family time and what we're trying to do will be better received.
In order to protect your child and their digital footprint, it’s important that you create boundaries.
Make sure they know not to share private information with anyone online or give out personal details about themselves in a public forum like social media.
We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of understanding how your child uses technology?
It is important to set boundaries and be present in their lives, but also let them explore online on their own terms.
There are many ways for parents to help children manage a safe life online without invading privacy or going overboard with control.
The solutions we proposed should make it easier for both parent and child to coexist safely while still enjoying the benefits of digital media together.