Kids are stubborn! They want to ride their bikes without helmets, they want to hang out with their friends ALONE (c’mon, Mom!), and they think they deserve their own smartphone yesterday.
But parents, we’re realists. We know the risks of the internet and anonymous chatting apps like Kik and WhatsApp. Just because kids are expecting phones before they hit puberty, doesn’t mean we like it. That’s why for parents like us, monitoring is not an option. It’s the only way we can ensure that our kids are safe. So, how do you get your kid on board with digital monitoring?
Discuss Digital Safety
In order for kids to feel comfortable with monitoring, they need to understand why digital safety is so important. It’s best to approach this as a lesson in problem solving. Start the conversation with some of your concerns. There are too many examples of kids being victimized by classmates or online predators.
A great lead-in is to start with something you saw in the media. The best examples to use are of teens or kids their age affected by cyberbullying, sexting, or kidnapping from online predators. Unfortunately, there are way too many. Check out stories of Amanda Todd, Demi Lovato, or the boy who met a predator on Minecraft.
Ask your child…
- Why do you think this happened?
- What did the victim do wrong?
- How could they have prevented the situation?
- What could their parents have done to help?
Believe it or not, your child may come to the conclusion that monitoring may have helped others avoid these dangerous situations. But, they will resist believing they need it. After all, kids think that they are immune to danger. So, the next step is to put both of your needs together and strategize how you can slowly allow them to increase their independence as they earn your trust.
Talk About Parental Supervision
Nobody expects to drive a car on the freeway without a license, right?
Talk to your child about the similarities between owning a smartphone and driving a car. There is so much freedom that comes with both, and the fact while there may be no legal regulations at the moment, that doesn’t change your duty as a parent.
With great power comes great responsibility, and that’s never been more true than it is with a smartphone. (Sorry, Spiderman!)
Teach Them How Digital Monitoring Can Keep Them Safe
Kids don’t understand how much the internet can affect their future.
With every post and snap, their reputation is being created. It’s important to reiterate to your child how easy it is to make a mistake that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. After all, you are their parent and know better than anyone the potential they have to make an impact on the world.
Create a Smartphone Contract Together
Maybe your kids still don’t fully understand, but that’s why a smartphone contract is the perfect way to wrap up the conversation and give them agency to set expectations.
Use the TeenSafe smartphone contract as a starting point to really think about why you are monitoring and what you are monitoring. Allow your child to give input on how monitoring affects their lives, and to set expectations for how the whole family can cut back on screen time.
The terms of the contract can also vary depending on the child’s age. For example, a child’s first phone may have increased monitoring and then become less active once you feel more comfortable with your child’s digital behavior.
As parents, we inherently know that digital monitoring is important because we know what’s at stake for our kids. This is more than just guaranteeing they are safe today, it’s about protecting their future potential.
Once you have discussed why digital monitoring is important, now it’s time to tell them that you are monitoring them.
It’s important that you build your relationship on mutual trust. The more open you can be with each other, the more you can inspire your child to choose the best path for their future.