If you're like thousands of other families this year, you gave your child a shiny new device for Christmas.
You may have debated the decision (or perhaps by now are regretting it), but the reality is you can't go back now. If you didn't plan in advance or think about the necessary precautions, it's not too late!
Katey McPherson is a national speaker, author and advocate for children's safety in a digital world. She talks to parents weekly about what they can do to protect the safety, health, and wellness of their kids, as it relates to smartphones, video games, and other electronic devices. She offers these affordable tips to help parents feel confident they're doing what they can to both protect them from the darkness of the world and alleviate the negative social-emotional and physical impacts of technology.
1. Consider not putting a device between you and your child. You're in this together. Sit down and create a list of no more than twelve things that you all agree on. Parents get three non-negotiables. Make it visual and fluid and tweak it every six months as they age. (Grades slip, no tech. Behavior is awful, earn it back. No sharing of body parts, addresses, private info, etcetera.) Click here for example contract. | Cost: $0
2. Consider not allowing devices in the bedroom or bathrooms. Nothing good happens on devices after 9 p.m. Many kids are secretly up all night long on tech and then they're toast at school the next day. Much of the anxiety and depression children are experiencing stems from the brain being overstimulated and agitated by conflict between peers overnight. | Cost: $0
3. Consider getting a great open mesh network router that filters out the yuck, porn, et cetera and allows you to shut down your whole house remotely (minus the adults' access) and doesn't slow down your Wi-Fi. My favorite is EERO. It's amazing! | Cost: $300
4. Consider a central charging station in your bedroom. All devices report there, as kitchens and lower levels are too tempting! This allows good sleep to happen, which dictates moods and well-being. That goes for adults as well! This also allows you an opportunity to check their devices. Yes, you should be checking their devices. Make this a part of your contract, so your child knows. | Cost: $0
5. For students in grades 4 through 12, consider installing BARK on their devices. BARK monitors their apps and messages and alerts you of signs of bullying, distress and self-harm/suicidal ideation, profanity, predation, sexually explicit content, and more. It's a no-brainer and a must! EVERYTHING you want to know is on your child's device and the pulse of their friendship groups is there, too. You can actually supervise and still allow privacy for your child. | Cost: $7 per month
6. Consider "liking" the following pages on Facebook:
- Collin Kartchner
- Parents Who Fight
- Parenting in a Tech World
- Protect Young Eyes
- Better ScreenTime
- Dr. Robyn Silverman
- My page is Katey McPherson, where I share updates and information, too.
I promise if you do these things, you will maintain most of your sanity and it won't be US vs. THEM.
Kids need us to mentor them, not just restrict or enable. Our goal is self-governance by ages 16 to 18. Be a digital mentor with them. They are awesome and they are our digital leaders!
Written by Jill Carroll, Marketing Manager for West Michigan Woman and Katey McPherson, national speaker, author and advocate for children's safety in a digital world.