Technology plays a huge role in everyday life. From social media and messaging to GPS location and reviews, you rely on tech more than ever before. And so do your kids. You know the risks that are online, and you want to protect your children from them.
This poses the question, is it OK to snoop on your kids?
Do: Follow Family Rules
If technology seems to be taking over your children’s lives, it might be time to create some family rules for everyone in the house to follow. Some examples include no phones at the dinner table, time limits on video game usage and a set time when all phones must be off at night. It’s easy to get sucked into the screens of tablets, smartphones and other devices, even for adults, so following family rules ensures that everyone is on the same page about acceptable tech use.
When the tech is away, you also have more time to talk to your kids about school, friends and life, so you don’t have to snoop on them via their computer or smartphone.
Don’t: Give In
Push back from your kids is inevitable. It’s not easy to deal with, but despite their cries for their tablet or accusations that “It’s not fair!” you must be firm in your tech policies and monitoring methods at home. After all, you’re the parent and you make the rules.
Do: Monitor Tech Use
According to a Harris poll in 2013, 43 percent of parents with kids under the age of 18 said that their children know that their tech use is being monitored. Think of it like this: it’s not spying, it’s parenting. Today’s tech-driven world puts kids and teens at risk more than ever before, and as a mom or dad it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.
When your children are old enough to have their own smartphones, whether it’s an iPhone or an LG mobile device, you can enable the parental controls to keep a watchful eye on their activity. Additionally, downloadable apps like Abeona for Android can be used to monitor usage, including website visits and call logs.
Do: Practice Open Communication
Having a conversation about tech use, texting, online threats, cyberbullying and other Internet-driven issues is key to ensuring that your children are safe online. Younger kids may be more understanding and teachable, but pre-teens and teens may give you more push back. Be sure to start these conversations early and practice open communication often, as tech will always be present in your children’s daily life. If your children can trust that you have their best interest in mind, it’s likely that they will be understanding.
Don’t: Assume the Worst
Not all kids are bullies or troublemakers. Your kids are not as mischievous as you might think. When you’re monitoring your children’s technology use, try not to assume the worst. If you’re constantly thinking that they are up to no good and you are hovering over them when they’re on their phone, you might break their trust.
Give your kids some space and remember to practice open communication. However, if you noticed red flags or a change in your children’s behavior, you might want to trust your suspicions and confront your child.
Should you read your teen’s text messages? Read more.
Think you don’t want to break that bond of trust? Take a few moments to watch Dateline’s, One Small Dose.
One small dose. That’s all it was. She was an honor roll student, not into drugs, never in troubled or into partying. Tara Fitzgerald, only 17 years old, however, was curious to try LSD and on one night made one bad decision she never woke up from.
“We all feel immune to drugs because our kids are better than that – they know better, they’re going to be smarter and it’s not going to happen to us. Well, it can happen to anybody,” – said Tara’s father in the following video.