I just read “Raising a Screen-Smart Kid” by Julianna Miner. She stresses the fact that research shows kids do not go to their parents when they run into inappropriate content or get involved in something they shouldn’t while online because they fear that their parents will take their phones away. Most teens would rather try to solve an issue themselves versus risk being without their phone. She suggests that if we want to maintain open communication with our children, it’s best to come up with alternative consequences. What have you found that works well for your child?
Hi, Dennis! This sounds like a good read. I’ll have to check it out! I think as parents, we need to make them understand that if they’re ever in trouble, while we may be disappointed it’s still important for them to be able to come to us for help. I feel like this is similar to the “safe out” text, where parents will tell their teens to text them “X” any time, and the parent will come and pick them up (from a party) no matter what no questions asked.
I’ve always told mine that I may be disappointed, and yes, there sometimes may be consequences, however those will be much less if they come to me with honesty vs. them sneaking and hiding and me finding out the hard way (results in harsher consequences). We’ve had trial and error with this (not necessarily with online content, but just in life), and after a few times, now my kids will freely come to me and let me know rather than me finding out. I always thank them for their honesty and we talk through the issue.
Of course, all kids are different and parenting styles vary, but so far that’s what’s working for us!
I actually had a “small” situation today with my daughter. She had screenshot a meme that included some profanity. (And while we’re not always the best parents at watching our language, and I can be somewhat lax about hers at home, I told her she is absolutely NOT to screenshot things like that and send them to friends. She knows there is a time and a place for certain words.)
Back to the consequences…in our discussion, I explained to her how what she did was inappropriate, and that I did not approve of her capturing those images, or sharing them. I asked her to check herself, and learn to self-regulate better, because next time there would be more serious consequences. (i.e. loss of use of apps/phone.) I’m trying to give her the tools to self-regulate her behavior while learning why certain things might be inappropriate. Now, had this been something more serious, like pornography and not the F-word, I would have been a little more firm with her. I believe in using these “smaller” offenses as a teaching moment, and setting a tone of trust.
Coincidentally, Bark was how I was alerted to the screenshot, and was able to address it immediately. <3 Bark!