Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit about screen time and limits with kids on various devices. Times change, kids grow and technology evolves. Here is how we are handling teens and technology limits now.
Teens and Technology Limits
We have 4 kids. Our older 2 are now TEENAGERS. I cannot believe half of my tribe are now teens. When I started this blog, they were so little – and then I only had 2 kids, not the 4 we have now. I remember about blogging about being pregnant with our third child. WOAH. That was 9 years ago. My oldest who is now 15, was just 6-years-old. Our now 13-year-old was just 4-years-old.
*sigh* I may need a glass of wine in order to finish typing this post.
The years have indeed passed quickly. I know, it’s SO cliche. When we are pregnant, everyone tells us this. Same thru the toddler years and so on.
When we started the blog, the internet was here but iPads weren’t! Apple didn’t introduce the iPad until 2010. And back then, kids had iPod Touches, not iPads to play with. There was no Nintendo Switch or Xbox One – we were still bowling and playing tennis on the Nintendo Wii and playing Rockband on the X-Box. Times have changed. Technology has evolved.
Setting Technology Rules
So what are the rules that we have for our teens with technology? We still put technology limits on our teens. We were early adapters in regards to getting them cell phones. We have kept a lot of the same rules that we had back then – regardless of their age.
Here’s the deal. Teens need supervision. Yes, they will spread their wings and fly and I want my kids to be GOOD, successful and most important – HAPPY members of society. In order to do that, they will fail. As a parent, I have to understand that. There are things that they can fail at that I cannot do anything about. But then there are things that I can control and that I can help them learn from. Therefore we have rules with technology.
I am often asked, what are the tech rules and what boundaries should I set for my kids. Well, I honestly believe that is up to you. What works for one kid, may not work for another. Same with your household and the values and environment in your home is most likely not the same as ours. AND THAT IS TOTALLY FINE. The world is made up of different people with different backgrounds and that is what makes this place beautiful.
Copy/paste in parenting doesn’t work. Rather than copying how someone else parents, just learn from them. Take-away what works best for your family. Each family dynamic is different. Find what rules and boundaries works best for your people and do that.
Here are some of our technology rules and limits that we put on our kids. I will say that I am writing this in the middle of summer. And like most parents, we are a lot more tolerant and flexible then in the school year.
No Screens in the Bedroom
This past year, we had to live in a hotel for 137 days. It was terrible and to make things crazier, our teens lived across the hall. We couldn’t fit 6 people and live sanely in 1 hotel room. The teens had their phones because I was frantic. AND OF COURSE during that time technology limits were out of whack, to say the least. I will say, this created chaos and totally reiterated why we have these tech rules and boundaries to begin with!
The kids played on their phones all night and had TVs. I’m not sure how many good nights of sleep they actually got! They could not make good decisions, especially when their friends are texting them at all hours at night and had access to Netflix. We are SO glad that we are out of the hotel and back to the no screen rule.
Read about our no screens in the bedroom rule.
Family Accounts on Apple
Each of our kids has an Apple device. Our older 2 have iPhones and our younger 2 have iPads. First, let me say how great it is when one of these devices goes missing – OR when a child forgets to tell me that they are making an extra stop with a friend after an event – I can track the device (or child) down with Find My iPhone. Any who – our kids do not get free reign to download whatever. We have setup a family account with Apple and I have to approve all apps. This helps on multiple levels, everything from how much money they spend on apps to what apps they actually have on their phone.
If you don’t have your Apple devices setup for a family, do it! In IOS 12 that comes out this Fall, Apple has incorporated screen time controls (FINALLY!) That’s right, you will be able to limit how much time your kid plays online and what apps they can use. This is exciting stuff, I will share more on Apple screen time controls as I learn more! I know parents will be doing a happy dance once they learn the specifics on using – but I do know that you NEED to have a family account setup and your kids as child accounts in order for this to work.
I’ve written a parent’s guide to Roblox and actually was approached to write a book. I politely declined, while I know this popular game has made strides in regards to parental controls – it just rubbed me the wrong way when one of our kids was approached about cyber sex and our child just didn’t understand what was right and what was wrong
It led to many discussions and we still hear “when can we play Roblox!” to this day. Sorry kids, we are not cool parents.
Screen Free Sunday
My beloved No Screen Sunday, how I love thee. Somedays, we do this on Saturdays and the kids have successfully negotiated this summer to do this on a Monday – but regardless we take one day (most of the time on Sunday) to go screen free. The kids don’t get to play on the computer, phone or iPad.
We spend time as a family and we catch up on chores. Did I mention this is glorious?!! Did I mention how much the kids hate it and I really don’t care because I am sure it’s building character. A break from screens one day a week doesn’t hurt anyone. While my husband and I still keep our screens, we really do make a purposeful effort to not be on them for recreation as much and to enjoy our time with the kids, technology-free.
Yes, Snapchat is ALL THE RAGE – well kind of. It’s fizzled quite a bit. And yes, I TOTALLY know that kids can send secret photos on Facebook and Instagram – but we’ve just put a hard no on Snapchat. It is just another social media platform that we would need to monitor and it is NOT easily monitored. In the last month, I have had 2 different parents message and ask if I let my kids yet on Snapchat. Nope. Sorry.
I will say this. I know of a family that used Snapchat extensively when a parent was ill. It was his way of still having fun with his kids when he couldn’t actually be there. I love this and remember how I say, you do what works for you – yeah, this is one of the reasons I say that! It may work for some families but for ours, it just doesn’t.
Ever-changing Rules – Just Like Technology
Just like technology, our rules will be ever-changing. I am sure that when I write this in 9 more years, when our 2 younger kids will be 16 and 17-years-old – everything will be totally different.
You do you, but do set limits. Kids need boundaries, technology limits and guidelines. We as parents need to be their light in this dark, crazy world. Our parents did NOT have to deal with technology limits or anything of the such. We need to learn as much as we can so that we know how best to guide our kiddos.
And by the way, I feel the need to share this little nugget. I see so many parents beating themselves up when they try so hard and sometimes (or a lot of times) things just don’t work out as planned. If something you do as a parent doesn’t go right – give yourself some grace. There is no parenting handbook.
This truth holds major truth in regards to technology limits and parenting teens!