I have struggled to share much about what we do to combat the technology wars (because I know all parents have different views on this one!), but several years ago a friend of mine gave me the. best. advice for managing technology for our kids at home and I am so thankful.
So I decided it was time to share. 🙂
Our kids are 15, 12, and 8, and for Christmas my middle one got her first iPhone. (We so scored a decent deal ~ she got a refurbished iPhone 4 on Amazon for $59, which so far has been the perfect choice.)
The problem is, our 15 year old son has gotten my phone used iPhones when I was ready for a upgrade, so there was no way we could purchase a brand new spankin' phone for her (nor did we want to pay full price!) However, since we don't have a home phone she really did need a way to get in touch with us some times, and sticking to iPhones is just easier for our family.
With those iPhones come a lot of things we don't love.
I don't love that they have full access to everything. (We've set up monitors for that, but they're smarter than me so I'm pretty sure they can see whatever they want if they really try.)
I don't love that it makes it so much easier to access social media, and feel “less than” someone else at times. (This one just is so hard ~ while there are so many things that I really do like about social media, this one hurts!)
And I don't love that so often they become more interested in their phone than our family.
Ahem. Often times I don't like that I become more interested in my phone than our family. yikes.
But there are two simple things we've done that have at least limited some of the battles, and I'm so glad we started out this way. Ready?
Here we go.
Our kids don't have televisions in their rooms.
They just don't.
In fact, for 18 years we only had one television for our family of 5, which (for the most part) was just fine. Since moving and having a basement in our new home we did add one TV there, but it doesn't get used all that often (and my kids choose to hang out in our main living area if they can.) By limiting the television sets in our home, our kids just naturally kind of hang out in our main living area.
As they're getting older and have friends over, I do love that we at least have the option of having the basement for them to hang out where we can still keep an eye on things but they are little more separate from the rest of the family. And for the record, I grew up with cable TV in my room way back in the 90's, and I watched WAY TOO MUCH TV (all day and night long), and hid out in my room away from our family pretty much as often as I could. Because of that I'm glad we made this choice from day 1 ~ it's just been a better choice for our family (although I know all families are different!)
THIS IS HUGE.
****OUR KIDS MUST KEEP THEIR CELL PHONE CHARGERS IN THE KITCHEN. ****
Which works perfectly because since their phones are slightly used, their battery life doesn't last all that long.
Secretly? I love that. 🙂
So, why does that even matter you may be asking?
- Their phones have to be in the kitchen when they go to bed, or they won't be charged the next day. This means the temptation to stay up all night texting friends or searching the internet is just gone. Done.
- They don't spend hours in their rooms unsupervised with their phones. Now, I'm not gonna lie, my kids are on their phones more than I want them to be (mostly playing games), but I'm usually within 10 feet of them while they play. This means they aren't watching videos that I don't know about, and if they're scrolling through Instagram I can usually check what they're looking at over their shoulder.
Now, I know better than to think that they don't have plenty of time to look up whatever when I'm not watching, but at least when they're in our home I have a good idea of what's going on.
And, after spending the last 6 years in the world of social media I warn my kids a lot about the dangers of the internet.
Before blogging, I had no idea that every single thing you do on the internet is being monitored in some form or fashion.
I tell my kids ALL. THE. TIME. that Google knows exactly what they're doing, and there's no way to hide if they've been doing something they're not supposed to do.
If all else fails, my kids have a healthy fear of the internet (and people watching them) which really does help at least for now.
The truth is, I know there are still tons of opportunities for them to mess up, but these are a few things that at least help limit what they look at online a bit.
It is hard raising kids in a culture when there is just so much out there. But I have a 15 year old who will be off in college way too soon and we're working so hard to teach him some boundaries here before he's out on his own.
There is SO MUCH OUT THERE and it is so hard when they feel like “everyone else in the world” has full access to everything.
I can't fix that at all, but these few things at least help a little.
If you have other suggestions on things that have helped limit technology in your home I'd love to hear them ~ and goodness, surely we'll all survive raising kids in such a different world than we grew up in!
Thank you Lana for the advice way back when to have kids keep chargers in the kitchen – I'm so glad we started out that way ~ it really does help!
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