Hey parents! How much time do you spend on Facebook? Actually, it doesn’t have to be Facebook we’re talking about. How much time do you spend at home in the evenings or on weekends, on your phone, laptop or tablet? While you play Candy Crush or catch up on work emails, someone is watching you – your kids.
If you’ve read other things we’ve written, you probably know that we are big fans of children and teens using the internet and technology to learn, grow and expand horizons. The same goes for adults, so we’re not saying that you should strictly limit your internet use, either, but moderation and awareness of the situation at hand need to apply to parents as well as kids. Be aware that when you’re online, you are setting an example for those around you. Specifically:
It’s OK to be online – It is okay, but it may not be okay to be online all the time, or at the dinner table, or in bed. Think about whether the rules you set for your children are rules that you are following yourself. And don’t be so engrossed in what you’re dong online that you can’t stop and address a question or issue posed by your child. If you can’t log off on short notice, you can’t expect your kids to either.
Facebook, Pinterest, texting are good things – They are. Having said that, parents of pre teens will be asked by a child at some point if they can have a Facebook or Instagram account of their own. After all, all their friends have them. If you’re an active Facebook user, you need to be prepared to tell your 11-year-old daughter why she can’t have one.
If something online makes you angry/sad/frustrated, that’s a normal reaction – This is a difficult issue since emotional reactions are not easily controlled. If you find yourself reacting demonstrably to what you’re seeing online, you might want to wait until the kids are in bed to wade into forums where those situations are presenting themselves.
It doesn’t matter if there are other people in the room – Obviously, that is not true. If you’re online and your family is around, you need to be partly or mostly “there” for them, like you have proverbial eyes in the back of your head.
A tablet, phone or laptop in the bedroom is a great idea – Studies have show that teens who use a phone or tablet in bed immediately prior to bed time get less sleep, and what sleep they get is lower quality. We are not fans of kids taking their electronics to bed with them, and as a parent if you do this yourself, it is going to be more difficult to prevent your kids from doing it.
We’re not perfect, and we are probably guilty of being online too much during off hours, but we understand that the most effective rules are set by parents who lead by example. We have work to do too.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.