It takes patience and consistency to find what works best.
We live in a digital world, so screens are a huge part of our everyday lives. And with school back in session, kids use screens more frequently during the day. Managing screen time during the school year is a big deal for all of us. And since we all spend a lot of time with technology, it’s up to us to help our children have a healthy relationship with their screens.
Managing screen time during the school year is essential for our kids’ development.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, too much screen time can have side effects, including:1
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have a set recommendation for kids 6 and older. They do recommend that parents set consistent limits and ensure that screens don’t replace sleep and physical activity.2
Explain to your kids that too much time sitting watching screens is not healthy.3,4 Establish consequences if they break the rules you set for them.
Practice what you preach.
The hardest part of managing your child’s screen time may be managing your own. Kids learn by watching. They will establish their relationship with technology based on your relationship with technology. If you always have the TV on or scroll through your phone whenever you have free time, they will probably do the same.
If you want your child to learn responsible technology use, model it for them.
Adjust the limits based on the day.
Different days may call for different screen limits. For some families, school days may mean no screens. For others, screen usage may be significantly reduced during school nights. Weekends may get extended screen time. You know your family and should do what’s best for your household. The most essential aspect of screen time is balance. Kids need physical activity and creativity. Make sure they are spending time being active, whether structured or unstructured.
Make bedrooms screen-free.
Keep TVs, video games, and computers in common areas. This keeps kids from disappearing with a screen for hours. It also helps you know what they are using screens for and how much time they spend on them. Screen-free bedrooms are a little more challenging with phones and tablets. Charging devices (even your own) overnight in a common area can be helpful.
Studies show that using screens before bedtime makes it harder for kids to fall asleep. It also reduces sleep quality. And when kids are tired, it’s harder for them to learn.5
Give your kids other options to keep them active instead of screen time.
They can take walks, ride bikes or scooters, or play outside. Offer other indoor activities, like board games or crafts. Set aside time to play with them. Kids need to be active daily. Even if you can’t be active with them, you can encourage and support them in their activities.
Have them earn screen time during the school year (and beyond).
It’s okay to make your kids complete homework and specific tasks or chores before you allow them to have screen time. There are different ways parents can put this into practice. One option is that homework and chores come first. Then they can have a set amount of screen time depending on how long it is until bedtime. Another is to allow them to earn screen time by completing chores. You can create a system where a task earns X amount of screen time.
Encourage your children’s creativity.
If your child loves watching videos or playing video games, encourage them to create their own. My daughter loves to make videos when we travel. She wants to show others the places she visits and tell them about her experiences. We don’t share these, but she is learning how to vlog. When she gets a little older, she can learn how to create these and make them shareable.
Engage with your child’s technology.
Watch videos with your kids and learn to play their games. Both of my kids enjoy watching YouTube creators. We watch with them so we can understand what they are watching, but also learn with them. My son loves to watch a former NASA engineer, and my daughter enjoys cooking videos. We’ve learned a lot as a family through their videos. It’s also common in our house to have family video game nights. Let’s just say MarioKart tournaments get intense!
Look for ways to engage screens as a family through games, videos, or apps.
Use mistakes as teachable moments.
As your child learns more about technology and screens, they will make mistakes. They may accidentally visit an inappropriate site, watch content you would not approve of, or go over their screen time. Mistakes are great learning opportunities.
What are routines you can start to encourage physical activity and creativity?
What area in your house can you designate as a tech-charging zone?
What are activities your child can engage in that don’t involve screens?
What task can your child complete to earn screen time?
What’s one show that your family can watch and use to grow together?
Managing screen time requires patience. Pick one or two of these that you can implement, and choose the easiest for your family. The key is consistency. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right all the time. Remember, their mistakes (and ours) make for great teachable moments.
4Barnett, T.A., et al. (2018). Sedentary behaviors in today’s youth—approaches to the prevention and management of childhood obesity: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000591.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Untitled-10-01.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2022-08-16 13:32:512022-08-16 17:15:5110 Tips for Managing Screen Time During The School Year
These guidelines can set you on a path to better relationships.
Have you paused lately to look around at our technological world? From smart home devices to self-driving cars, it’s a lot to take in. And then, we have to guide our children on how to engage with all this – and talk about screen time. It’s overwhelming to hear all the different voices, from professionals to friends, telling us how our kids should use technology. Our kids are growing up in a world where digital identities are just as real as physical ones. And it’s not like there’s a well-laid out manual for helping your child navigate an ever-changing technological world.
You may be wondering, “What in the world do I do here?”
We can ask a different question, though. It’s this: “How can my family use technology without allowing technology to use us?”
As you make your plan, consider your personal situation. Based on American Academy of Pediatrics research, these general guidelines can help you navigate technology use in your home.
Screen time: the good and the bad.
Screen time isn’t wrong in and of itself. It’s all about how you use it. There are many benefits to co-viewing with younger children and using technology to promote learning and conversation.
Too much screen time can be linked to:
Lower academic performance
Benefits of screen time:
Exposure to new ideas and information
Connection to family and friends who are geographically distant
Co-viewing and co-playing with your child can promote healthy development
Digital tools can promote school readiness or enhance learning
Creating a plan as a family is powerful. Of course, you, as the parent, have to determine how much screen time your child has. But there is power in allowing them to craft how that looks and what other activities they can be involved in to ensure they exercise their physical and creative skills.
Utilize screen time limits on devices.
Most devices have parental controls for screen time usage. Use all the tools at your disposal.
Balance screen time with quality personal time.
Children need parental or caretaker engagement to develop emotionally and socially. Ensure that you’re balancing their screen time with your presence.
Avoid screens at mealtime.
Meals are a fantastic way to connect as a family. Focus the time on discussing what everyone’s day was like or asking questions to spur conversation.
Avoid screens in the bedroom.
A child’s bedroom is a great place to play and rest. At a young age, avoid allowing them to take screens into their room as much as possible.
Turn off all screens during family outings.
Screens can be distracting when the family is engaging in activities together. Turn off screens for all family members (parents included).
Unplug from screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Our brains need time to decompress and rest. Spend this time reading together to prepare everyone for a restful night.
What this means for you.
Your child is going to use screens. It’s how they connect with the world. Do your best to help guide how they use screen time in a healthy way. Sure, you may bend or break the rules at times. You may need to give in to more screen time ‘cause you need a break or have to get something done. That’s ok. Your child will continue to develop and grow. What they need more than strict tech rules is an involved parent. Make sure they are getting outdoors and playing and creating. If you haven’t navigated screens well up to this point, that’s ok. There’s no better time to start than the present.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Untitled-14-01.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2022-01-31 16:12:102022-02-01 11:20:55Your Ultimate Guide to Screen Time
Hey, Mom or Dad! If you’re like me, managing screen time for your kids can be a struggle. How much should they have? What impact is that tiny screen having on their development? What about when they’re on screens at school? I get it. The questions about screen time limits can be overwhelming.
There are countless articles addressing screen time for kids.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has several age-specific recommendations in Media and Young Minds. To name a few, they recommend no media for children 2 and younger and only one hour per day for children ages 2 to 5. Well, I’ll be the first parent to raise my hand and admit I dropped the ball there.
Maybe you’re right there with me. If so, don’t feel bad. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting over the past nine years, it’s that we need to give ourselves (and our kids) a lot of grace. We didn’t get a parenting handbook the day they were born, and they didn’t get a child handbook, either. We’re all learning as we go.
Now back to those pesky screens. They’re everywhere, and they’re part of everyday life. So, we need a plan to use them (and not let them use us).
Limiting screen time is very important for your child’s development, but limiting your own is just as important.
Oh no, he didn’t just say that!
Yes. Yes, I did!
You want to be a good parent. You know that the best way your child learns is through example. Your kids learned to walk and eat by watching you do it. Whatever trait they’ve learned, they learned from someone. Technology usage is no different.
And this isn’t just about teaching your kid how to use technology effectively. It’s about you using it effectively and managing your screen time.
I know I’m asking a lot. Don’t worry, I’m looking in the mirror challenging myself here, too. I need to set better screen boundaries for myself.
So, where do we start?
Here are a few ways you can help set limits for the entire family.
1. Create tech-free zones in the house.
Talk to your family and create some tech-free areas or times at home. The dinner table is an excellent place to start. Make a rule that while you eat dinner, no phones or TV. But what are you going to do? I’m so glad you asked. Take this time to ask questions. Check in on each other’s days. Grab a list of random questions and work through those.
2. Establish tech-free times.
Maybe you can have a weekly game or movie night. A movie involves a screen, but you can put all other devices on airplane mode or away while the movie is on. Implement those movie theater rules. Set aside times for you and your partner to be tech-free after the kids go to bed. Be intentional about your time together.
3. Turn off notifications.
Turning off my notifications was one of the best things I ever did with my phone. The only notifications I get are messages and the weather. When your notifications are off, you choose when you use the technology. You don’t let the little ding dictate your usage. Researchers have even proven the little notification ding gives us a shot of dopamine.
4. Track screen time.
This one is for everyone. Most phones or devices have screen time or screen health settings. Track the usage for the family. Set sleep times for all devices and limit screen exposure before bed so it doesn’t interfere with sleep quality. Monitor what you use your device for and when.
Modeling healthy technology use for your kids will help them in so many ways. Remember, not all screen time is bad, and there are plenty of creative ways to use technology as a family. Just being intentional about your usage and setting some limits can create positive change now and in the future.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Untitled-2-01.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2022-01-19 10:31:372022-08-16 09:45:53Why You Need Screen Time Limits, Too (Not Just Your Kids!)
How they spend their time in front of a screen matters.
You’re a good parent. You wouldn’t call yourself one. You’re truly humbled by how much you don’t know about parenting. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed. Often, it’s like you’re flying by the seat of your pants. But you care. You’re trying hard at this parenting thing. So, you invest time in reading about health, nutrition, and child development. As a good parent, you’re concerned about the effects of technology and screen time on kids, especially for your child. There’s alarming but also alarmist info out there. So, let’s set the record straight. Maybe this can clear up some confusion or lift lingering guilt.
In an NPR interview, Fiona Bull, the chairperson of the WHO team that created the guidelines, said, “We’re concerned — and the evidence shows — that extended periods of time passively watching screens is detrimental to health, particularly for very young children.”
Case closed, right? It’s easy for parents to read such edicts and come away with the idea that screens are a radioactive toxin.
But there are two phrases here that need to be unpacked and examined::
“Extended periods of time.” (The report uses qualifiers like “hours,” “sedentary,” and “restrained.” Translation: A child lying around or being strapped into something, in front of a screen for over an hour.)
“Passively watching.” (This is in contrast to “actively engaging.” Especially engagement accompanied by a parent.)
Maybe the case against screens isn’t closed. Let’s focus on case management instead. Here are three types of screen time the WHO report is NOT addressing.
Video Chatting. This is the time you let your child interact with a person like Daddy or Grandmom on a screen. This isn’t “passively watching.” Instead, this is engaging and is just as developmentally appropriate as talking, reading, or singing to your child.
Buying Yourself A Few Minutes. Yes. Life happens. Your child is wailing with an intensity that has you considering the pediatric benefits of exorcism. Still, you aren’t quite finished with a work Zoom meeting. Or you just need a quick shower. Or it’s a 15-minute car ride. This is real life. Trust your parenting survival instincts. Your phone is no different than a toy you would use to occupy your child. Don’t let the WHO guilt you on this. Note: This is NOT using a screen for hours as a free babysitter.
Co-Viewing. Joint media engagement. Anytime you’re interacting with your child and a screen is fine. Point out shapes and colors. Count things. Identify animals in an interactive storybook. Move items on the touch-screen. This is not the sort of thing the WHO is discouraging, so snuggle up. (Academic guilt relief, here and here.)
You’re a good parent. Think of screen time like sweets. Little treats, especially shared, can be just the thing to get your child, and you, through the day.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pexels-ola-dapo-3521937-scaled-e1617219512640.jpg321900John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2021-03-31 15:38:422023-06-12 06:16:283 Reasons To Let Your Child Have More Screen Time
You can help them navigate the world of online relationships.
Take a deep breath. You may have just realized that your child might be a cyberbully. Ugh. And now you’ve got to a) Find out if it’s true, and b) If it is, try to address it so that it stops.
Whether you read a social media post, heard from another parent or teacher, or overheard a conversation, something has made you wonder if your child is cyberbullying. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible parent if your child is being aggressive online. While it’s healthy to think through anything you may have done that could contribute, it’s essential to focus on helping your child, because cyberbullying harms young people. Addressing it and dealing with it can promote the safety and wellbeing of your child and those they come in contact with.
So, what even is cyberbullying? It’s using an electronic device to intimidate, threaten or humiliate another. This most often involves being aggressive online toward people from school or the neighborhood.
What are some warning signs that your child may be a cyberbully?
While there’s no substitute for ongoing conversations between you and your child, this list from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may be helpful.
Dramatic changes in technology usage. Yes, some kids seem to be glued to their devices. Keeping an eye out to see if they are on their devices more than usual or suddenly seem to not care if they are on an electronic device could raise some red flags. They may be super interested in seeing how others respond to them or even feel some guilt and not want to know. Either way, this may be a sign of bullying behavior.
Are they jumpy, hiding devices, or changing screens when you enter the room? Savvy kids can try to hide behavior and screens from you. Learning how to look up search history and digital usage can unlock their electronic behavior.
Unwillingness to talk about what’s on their screens. Maybe they give one-word answers; they avoid the topic or ignore the question. Pay attention when they’re unwilling to answer questions about what’s on their screens. This could indicate involvement in harmful online behavior.
Let’s be honest. Most of these bullet points probably sound like normal teenage behavior on a regular basis. It’s difficult to accuse your child of cyberbullying when you’re not 100% sure.
However, these tips can help you address the issue whether you just suspect it or want to prevent it from happening.
Dig deeper to get a feel for what’s going on in your child’s heart and mind. Look at pictures, posts on social media, text messages, etc. Try to find out what’s happening behind the scenes in their life. Many times, the digital trail will give you quite a bit of insight and greater understanding.
Think through what it takes for you to be open, honest, and vulnerable with someone. Then think through what it takes for your child to be open, honest, and vulnerable with you. Be that person when you talk with them. This will increase your chances of working together to overcome the situation and form an open, honest relationship of accountability for the future.
Don’t be surprised if your child gets defensive. Children can be persuasive when it comes to avoiding “trouble.” They’ll say things like, “I can’t believe you’d think I would do that!” Focus on ensuring that bullying behavior isn’t acceptable by anyone in your home, but also look for the “why” behind the behavior. Your relationship with them is about so much more than punishing them. Your goal is to guide them where you’d like to them be and lead them to make healthy choices.
Ask your child if they’ve ever done something that might be considered cyberbullying. Or if someone has cyberbullied them in the past. Help them think it through. You may talk about how easy it is to take things (especially in a text) the wrong way. Sent a message that made someone feel uncomfortable? Made fun of someone and hurt their feelings?
Help your child think from the other person’s perspective. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand what they may be feeling can build empathy.
Talk about your family expectations regarding online conduct and how to treat people at all times. Set the standard. Your children must know precisely where you stand regarding any kind of bullying by them or toward them. Discuss and enforce consequences for engaging in any type of bullying behavior.
Many forms of cyberbullying violate schools’ zero-tolerance policy and may be addressed by a school counselor. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important to encourage your child to do as they’re asked at school and use the situation as an opportunity for growth instead of a form of punishment or unfairness. Let them know you’re on their team and you’re there to work through it with them.
Oh, and one more thing.
Many bullies target others because of something they have experienced themselves, and they may have never told anyone else about it. Professional counseling may help your child work through issues that trigger the cyberbullying behavior. Your child needs to know you are there for them, and that you will do what it takes to support their growth as they navigate the world of online relationships. They won’t get it right every time, but they can move forward with your help.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/daria-nepriakhina-_XR5rkprHQU-unsplash-scaled-e1615477364330.jpg288900Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-03-11 10:42:552021-03-11 12:29:00I Think My Child Is Cyberbullying… What Do I Do?
Cyberbullying has been on the rise for a while, but it has escalated during the pandemic. And it’s no wonder, due to virtual school, increased technology, and the flexibility parents have been giving to digital boundaries.
Our kids are highly active online. They’re digital natives. This is the world they are growing up in. Safety is always a concern, just like it was for us. I want my kids to be safe when they are online, so I want them to be aware of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is using an electronic device to intimidate, threaten or humiliate another. It’s bullying in a digital world, and it can be done 24/7.
According to a recent Pew Research survey, 59% of U.S. teens have experienced some form of online harassment. Teens reported six common types of abusive behavior:
Spreading of false rumors
Receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for
Frequently being asked where they are, what they’re doing, or who they’re with by others
Having explicit photos of them shared without their consent
As parents, we need to proactively watch for signs of cyberbullying. Ninety percent of teens surveyed believe cyberbullying is a problem that affects people their age. A majority of them felt their parents were doing a good job addressing online harassment. Let’s keep it up.
Signs of cyberbullying
Here are some signs that your child is a victim of cyberbullying. They:
Suddenly stop using their computer, tablet, or phone, even though they’ve always enjoyed it.
Seem nervous when receiving a text or notification.
Shut down their devices when family members approach them.
Allude to bullying without directly saying they are being bullied. Maybe your child talks about drama at school or their lack of friends.
Withdraw from technology, friends, or family.
If you see these signs, don’t just assume they act this way because they are teens. While that may be the case, something deeper may be happening.
Steps you can take to help your child
The first step is to talk to your child. As parents, we know our kids best. When you see a change in their attitude or demeanor, ask some questions. If you sense they’re being bullied but won’t open up about it, share a story from your childhood about when you were bullied. Your child’s safety is your top priority. You want to make sure they feel safe and know they can talk to you about anything. You both want the same result: to stop cyberbullying.
If you don’t already have ground rules in place for technology usage, now’s the time to start. You should be able to see where and who your child has been interacting with online.
Collect evidence. Print out or take screenshots of cyberbullying instances.
Work with the school. Talk to the administrator about their bullying policy.
Do not contact the bully’s parents. While this is often our first thought, we don’t want to escalate the situation. We, as parents, usually take our child’s side and don’t like to listen to accusations about their behavior.
Contact the content provider. Websites, apps, gaming networks, etc., all have terms of service that cyberbullying violates. It’s in all those disclaimers that we often just click “I have read and agree” without reading. (Guilty!) Even if your child can’t identify their bully, the provider can do something about it.
If necessary, seek counseling. Remember your child’s well-being is the top priority. Bullying can have long-lasting effects. Speaking to a counselor may help them.
If there are physical threats, contact the police. It may be an empty threat, but do not wait to find out.
Cyberbullying can be a severe threat to your child’s well-being. They deserve the opportunity to learn and develop without fear. The best step you can take is to be proactive. Be engaged in their digital lives and build an environment of trust and transparency.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pexels-rodnae-productions-6936070-e1614858302454.jpg344900Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2021-03-04 06:45:132021-03-09 08:58:00What to Do if Your Child is Being Cyberbullied
Adults are working from home. Students are learning from home. We’re Zooming and following IG stories to keep up with our friends and family. We have become more reliant on technology to earn a living, get an education, and stay connected to loved ones than ever before.
Even in the midst of our dependence on WiFi, apps, smartphones, and social media, we look around at our family from time to time and say, “We’re texting each other from the next room.If we don’t get control of all this screen time, our family isn’t going to know each other.”
There are studies linking technology to mental health problems like loneliness, anxiety, and depression. People are suffering from issues such as video game addictions. Divorce filings are citing inappropriate online behavior as factors leading to marital collapse.
Technology is often dictating how we spend our time instead of the other way around. As parents, part of wrestling control away from the screens working on releasing as many dopamine squirts in your brain to get you hooked means setting boundaries with your family.
Here are eight tips for setting boundaries in your family so technology can increase family togetherness and not cause a disconnect.
Set boundaries so technology serves a positive purpose in your family.
Technology can educate, connect, and entertain us in healthy ways. Boundaries help ensure that technology doesn’t take away from any of those positive things. Make sure a screen is never the only source for educating, connecting, and entertaining.
Be a good role model.
Boundaries can’t be one-sided. “Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work. Yes, there are some perks to being an adult; being a technology-distracted parent isn’t one of them. Telling your kids not to bring phones to the dinner table while you sit at the dinner table and text is not a good plan. As a leader in your home, you must first lead by example.
Protect your family.
Setting technology boundaries helps protect your family’s connection, safety, and both mental and physical health. Whether it’s cyberbullying or anxiety, establishing boundaries can work to safeguard your family’s wellbeing.
Make a plan.
Create a family technology plan which includes the purpose, boundaries, and consequences. Enforce consequences unapologetically. This can be as simple as taking away their game controllers or reducing their allotted tech-time.
Incentivize technological responsibility.
Encourage your family to make good decisions through rewards that are meaningful. Trips to the ice cream shop, extra tech-time on the weekend, choosing the movie on family movie night—anything that brings attention to good decision-making regarding technology usage reinforces the behavior you want to see.
Designate tech-free time.
When possible, replace tech-time with family time. Make space for family movies, game nights, and family meals. Setting aside time before bedtime, when devices are off, will help the family connect and increase everyone’s chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
Focus on what’s best for your family. Don’t compare yourself to other families. No two homes are alike. It’s one thing to seek advice from other families, but keep your family values front and center.
Educate your family.
Invite your children to learn what you’re learning about the pros and cons of technology. Our family has watched documentaries, television specials and read information together. Being informed has helped our family understand the potential effects of technology on our mental health, relationships, and even our brains. This helps us hold each other accountable and helps us stay focused on the most important thing—our relationships.
Boundaries don’t have to be restrictive. Good boundaries will help your family enjoy relationships with each other by protecting you from potential distractions. Setting boundaries in your family is your way of putting technology in its place. Gadgets are not more important than your relationships with the people you love. Messing with those relationships is a boundary that you can’t give technology the freedom to cross.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pexels-august-de-richelieu-4260325-e1603804296998.jpg229600Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-10-27 09:11:492022-04-28 09:45:178 Tips For Setting Technology Boundaries In Your Family
In part one, we talked about giving your child a smartphone and what they need to know about sexting to protect themselves. Now, regardless of how you found out, you know your teenage son or daughter is sexting. Step #1, get a hold of your own emotions – embarrassment, guilt, disappointment, shock, anger – so you can have a productive conversation with your teen. If you need to go for a walk, phone a friend, talk to your spouse – whatever. It’s completely okay to tell your teen, “We’ll discuss this tomorrow.” It’s not only okay, but it is also very wise. You have thoughts to get together.
Thought #1: What do I want to accomplish with this conversation – for my teen and for myself as a parent? Don’t rush thinking this through. Have goals.
Thought #2: This isn’t going to be a one-time talk. You want to open the door for an ongoing conversation about sexting and other difficult teen conversations – pornography, sex, drugs, alcohol, dating violence, etc. You want to be an empathetic, askable parent so your teen feels comfortable talking to you about anything.
Thought #3: Try to find a time and place that allows for private undistracted, uninterrupted conversation.
[Here’s an example of a real conversation about pornography. Notice the parent doesn’t lecture, doesn’t ask a million questions, doesn’t guilt-trip their child. The parent clearly doesn’t condone pornography but is more interested in finding out their teen’s thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. This doesn’t mean there will be no consequences. But the parent is trying to build a relationship to keep these kinds of talks going.]
In a calm, direct voice, ask your teen about the circumstances around the sexting. Then wait and really listen to them without judgmental facial expressions or tones. Keep your mind and your body language open. You can disapprove of what your teen did but still be deeply concerned about them, validate their feelings, and the fallout of their choices.
✦A word about punishments for sexting. The normal, obvious go-to is to take their phone away. Maybe you need to in their situation. This might be their 5th offense. They may not be ready for the responsibility that comes with a smartphone. Maybe they need an off-the-shelf phone that just allows them to talk and text.
I don’t usually dabble in how parents punish their kids. Every kid and every family is different. I will say this: I’m a big fan of letting the universe handle some of the disciplining of my kids. I’m referring to natural and logical consequences. Sometimes the punishment is built into the poor choice. The choice to sext often has some built-in consequences like guilt, humiliation, a destroyed reputation, being bullied online and in real life, getting in trouble at school, the law getting involved, and on and on. You know your child better than anyone. How are they navigating these consequences? Do you need to drop the hammer on them or help them up? We’ve all done something we regretted. Making mistakes is a normal part of growing up. The important thing is to learn from it.✦
Ask questions to dig just a little. NOTE: This is different than an interrogation. As you have a conversation, try to work in some of these questions.
What do you get out of sexting? How does it make you feel?
Did you feel pressured to do it?
Did the recipient promise not to show anyone?
What is considered “normal” about sexting among your peers?
Have you received sexts? What did you do with them?
Are there things on your phone you wouldn’t want me to see?
What has been the fallout of your sexting?
Do you think sexting is wrong? Why or why not?
Resist the urge to lecture or ask a million follow-up questions. Act comfortable and be direct. Show you’re really listening and trying to understand your teen and let them feel heard. You may not get to all this in one conversation. That’s okay. Know when to stop the conversation. You can always pick it back up. Let your teen know you love them no matter what.
There are some things your teen needs to know about sexting. (They will roll their eyes. Ignore it.) You have a responsibility as a parent to make sure they know and understand certain things. So what are you supposed to do, whether you think your teen is sexting already or whether you’re worried they might start in the future? Believe it or not, you’re not powerless. So what can you do? Sheknows.com breaks it down.
Talk to your teen. A scary thought for many of us, but one of those unavoidable responsibilities of parenting. Talk to them about the possible long-term consequences of getting involved in sexting. Like the fact that nude images of kids under age 18 are child pornography, which is illegal. Talk about the short-term consequences, like the whole school getting a hold of a “private” photo shared with a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Talk about self-esteem and self-respect. Consider how you might be setting yourself up for a lot of drama.
Set rules. Do you let your kids drive drunk? Do you let them ride in the car with no seat belts? So why give them something as dangerous as a cell phone and not establish rules? Start random phone checks, and go through everything on it regularly.
Take away the cell phone. Drastic, yes. But sometimes necessary when nothing else is working. If you truly don’t trust your child, why would you trust them with a tool they can use to bully others?
Ifyou or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/WhatToDoWhenYourTeenIsSexting.jpg394800John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2020-10-05 21:28:172022-07-25 14:04:51What to Do if Your Teen is Sexting