I Won’t Be the Parent of the Kid Who Texts an Inappropriate Picture. I Hope.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

My oldest daughter was 11 when she asked how old she had to be to get her own laptop. I wondered if it was possible she was using drugs and we didn’t know. “For privacy,” she said. Oh. Well, see, there’s no such thing. Not here.

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It was bright outside and she said she couldn’t see the game she was playing.

Our computer for family use is in the dining room. Anyone walking through from the living room or kitchen can easily see what you’re doing online, no matter how stealthily you attempt to click the red X when you’re looking at something you have no business looking at, AND YOU KNOW IT. My light steps will be upon you asking whatcha doin’ before you have a chance to get rid of that inappropriate picture or switch to something else so I won’t know you’ve already watched the movie I said we were going to watch together. Husband. Ahem.

I have a laptop and I do tend to take it to whatever room I’m in, but listen. I’ve earned the right to do this; I buy food instead of shoes which means I’m the one in charge, and because I said so.

When she was in eighth grade and riding the bus alone, we got our daughter her first phone. Although my initial decision was to buy a basic phone that only made and received calls and texts, we wound up with a smartphone because ooooh, gadgets. I thought that with the limits I could place on the phone, and with me being a responsible, um, adult, I would be able to keep track of her use. I didn’t know how easily, how soon, I would forget to check her use. And then the limits agreement/offer with our carrier changed and I hadn’t noticed.  And then we got our first data overage charge.

Things needed to change. I needed something easier.

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It’s never been difficult for us to limit our kids’ use whether it be phones, tablets, iPods, computer, tv. Turn it off because I said turn it off. That’s usually the end of it. And we talk about online safety: what to say, what not to say. What to share, what not to share. Appropriate sites get talked about constantly. They don’t have televisions in their rooms, but I’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of times I’ve caught them with a phone or tablet upstairs and haven’t I said no too many times to count? One night my older daughter had been in the bathroom way longer than usual. Whatever she needed to happen in there wasn’t happening and maybe drink more water. I tapped on the door and asked if she was feeling OK. She opened the door and had her phone in her hand. Oh. Um. Nah, son. This ain’t what we’re gonna do.

She likes to joke that if there’s ever an emergency at school she won’t be able to call for help. “I can’t do anything until after 4:00.” Aw. I’m sorry. That must be embarrassing in your daydream of a hypothetical need for fire, police, or an ambulance. But take heart. You can always dial 911. Always.

I’m no tyrant, but I am aware. The limits on her phone are there as protection, not to be overbearing. Remember, I don’t believe in privacy in that regard. But I do believe in being safe online and that all kids have the capacity to make mistakes even if their mom has repeatedly yelled DON’T EMBARRASS ME. I help her achieve my desired perception of parenting perfection by placing limits on what sites she can visit, what times of day she has access to the internet, even who she can accept calls/texts from. I recall a time when she was seven or so when I truly believed having a phone was so far away. We can’t run away from technology, though. We can reminisce about Atari, cassette tapes, and winding a phone cord around ourselves as we whisper to Marc Brown, “No, you hang up first.” But we have to remember that what’s important to and used by kids today isn’t going to look like our childhood looked. (I still have a box of tapes.)

It’s all about a balance. There are controls on her phone, sure, but there are also times when I relax them. Maybe it’s spring break and there’s no homework which means there’s probably a homework packet and we’re simply ignoring it. Maybe it’s after dinner and we all play the same game (the kids win racing, I win words, my husband wins trivia). The limits don’t hurt; they provide help teaching our kids responsibility.

What have you learned about responsible technology use from the young people in your life? Visit OurPact online to find out more about how it “empowers parents to guide their children through the balanced use of technology.” Download the FREE app here.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

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