Parenting And Parental Controls
Parental controls are, fundamentally, tools. Just like the wrench doesn’t hop up and turn the nut for you, parental controls aren’t designed for you to just lock off devices at your convenience. They’re designed to help you create and reinforce boundaries.
Keep in mind, there are far more tools than just parental controls, and some of them not even your kids see. Special apps for children such as YouTube Kids, for example, or the rigorous codes and carefully enforced social standards on Nintendo’s portable consoles are two other examples. But none of them fully work unless kids understand why those boundaries are there, or if they see them as unfair restrictions imposed on them for no reason.
As every parent knows, even the sweetest, most well-behaved child can find themselves outside the boundaries, either by accident or by design. Maybe a “friend” gets around the controls, or perhaps the software fails in some way and they see something they can’t process or don’t understand. This is the point where parenting kicks in. So how do you better use these tools to help your family?
It starts with the conversation you have about boundaries. Sit your kids down and lay out the rules you’re setting up, how you’re enforcing them, and why they’re being set. But don’t make it a lecture; make it a conversation. Ask them questions: How long does it take them to do their homework? What resources do they need? What are they most interested in on the internet?
You get the last word, of course. Bedtime is bedtime. But leave room for flexibility and changes, and write out the rules and make sure they understand both the reason behind those rules, and that you’re willing to revisit those rules and change them.
Another important conversation to have is how the internet can be a tough place. The common conversation is about “blue” content, but there’s much, much more on the internet kids can stumble over they might not be able to deal with. Hate speech, verbal abuse in chat rooms, and other things they need to be able to talk with you about if and when they see them will turn up. They should understand that if something scares them, hurts them, or otherwise makes them uncomfortable, that coming to you should be the first thing they do, and not to worry about how they came across it until later.
Any family’s internet rules are going to be a work in progress. New technologies, kids growing into new responsibilities, and other needs will shift the rules. Parental controls are simply a way for you to keep a handle on the rules and ensure they’re enforced consistently and fairly, and Screen Time can help. Contact us to learn more.