Techie Teens

I recently read a blog article titled, “Controlling the Techie Tween,” by Gila Brown, parent coach, over at Mamapedia Voices.

I read with interest, her parental coaching tips regarding technology and tweens. She states, “While kids may not be able to articulate their need for gadgetry, parents need to understand and respect it. Trying to control the usage or censor the content, only serves to undermine the parent-child relationship.” And, “The bottom line is that trying to control the techie tween is futile and unproductive.”

Is she kidding?!

Her article stresses that instead of trying to control your child’s gadgetry, your energy “would be better spent on communicating with them to develop a mutual trust.” Um, exactly how are we supposed to do that if they’re plugged in all the time?

Nope, I must respectfully disagree with Ms. Brown.

As parents, it’s our job, to set some limits and controls, until our tweens and teens develop enough self-discipline to manage it on their own. For Christmas last year, we finally got both our teens “real” cell phones as opposed to the $19.99 Tracfones and accompanying 3-month/60-minute phone cards we’d purchased for them at Meijer in 1986. (Okay, just kidding—it wasn’t really 1986!) For an added surprise, we included the unlimited texting feature.

Well, it wasn’t long before the texting frenzy began. Then came the IM’s, listening to iPods while sending e-mails, Internet surfing, requests for Facebook pages and before we knew it—all this techie stuff was getting out of hand.

So my hubby and I established some techie-related guidelines that must be followed, or the privilege of using all this cool new technology becomes null and void. For example:

     -We installed security software on our computer to keep the creepy porn stuff out, then we permitted each of our teens to have a Facebook account with the stipulation that they each accept mom as one of their “friends,” and had to give us their top-secret password for page access.

     -No texting during family game nights, movie nights, meals, or “real life” conversations.

     -Cell phones turned off and turned in at bedtime.

     -Absolutely NO texting while driving!

     - No texting during school hours.

     -No texting or Facebook while doing homework.

     Exception to this rule: AP Physics. Prompted by the following conversation:

     “Mom can you help me with this problem?”

     Leaning over my daughter’s shoulder, I viewed the confusing physics jumble staring back at me from the computer screen. I read it through. Read it again. And again. My mouth hung open for several seconds, before my vision cleared and I was able to turn and focus on my girl’s sweet, hopeful face. “Uh…no, honey. No I can’t. Maybe you should text somebody from your class?”

And finally…

     -No privacy. This one’s a bit more controversial, but once they’re 18, and off on their own new adventures, they’ll have all the privacy they want. But for now, as the parents, we’re responsible for their welfare. If periodically checking the content of e-mails, IM’s or text messages helps us do that, we’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Up until about a year ago, my hubby and I were blissfully unaware of how the world of tween and teen communication had been changing all around us. But the fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, these techie toys are here to stay. And it’s the responsible parent who does the tough job of learning their way around this new world. And it’s the loving parent who takes the time to set up some boundaries, never tuning out to the fact that their kids are plugged in.

Image by: ydhsu


RuthMom said...

Right on, Holly. It is so very annoying to be sitting in a restaurant or attending a social event and have the person with or near you (not necessarily a teen or tween) blithely ignoring their companions as they either talk to or text an invisible friend. We need an Emily Post of technology. I'm nominating you!!

Susan R. Mills said...

Great post! I have two teens, soon to be three, and they spend so much time texting on their phones, I want to scream. When school started this year, we set up some strict guidelines, but you know what they keep saying to me? Well you blog all the time, why can't we text? Hmm...maybe I should teach by example. :)

Cara said...

I ABSOLUTELY applaud you!! I could not agree more that children need these guidelines established for them, and the ones that you have set in your home sound beyond reasonable. Hubby sometimes thinks that I'm not "lenient" enough by not letting our just-turned-two-year-old to watch a movie every once and again - because of those exact reasons. He gets a movie on the weekends, but only a DVD that we have screened before. We do not turn on the TV (at home, g-parents is a little different LOL!) while he is up, and our one exception to this is if Daddy is watching football, because, well... sports, you know? Very good reasoning, Holly! :)

Theta Mom said...

Awesome post! I don't think this topic that is not discussed enough. I totally agree with you, if we don't set the limits as parents, nobody is going to do it for us or for our kids.

BTW, thanks for sharing your sweet comment about your son and how quickly they grow up. Isn't that the truth?

One with many names said...

Very interesting post. Our oldest daughter got her cell phone when she was 10. She rarely used it for the first year and has only recently begun to use it more often. She has recently set up a FB page... but so far, she has minimal time on the computer and with her phone. 50% of the time she leaves it somewhere.

It's good to have guidelines and structure around such things though, so they don't get out of hand.

2Wired2Tired said...

Ugh, I'm so not looking forward to when my two become teenagers. I feel a bit afraid already that I won't be able to stay on top of everything, who knows what it's going to be like in ten years.

Great attitude though. I think your rules are wonderful and respectable. Hopefully your teens agree and don't give you too difficult a time about it.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Hey there 2 Toddlers and Me, don't be concerned about the teen years! It does seem a bit scary and overwhelming when you're not "living it" yet, but teens are GREAT! I've enjoyed every phase my kids have gone through, from todderhood to teens. :)

Annette Piper said...

I think you've taken some very sensible precautions. We really limit our children's access to gadgetry (although they're not teens yet) and hope to continue in this vein.

PropellerHeadMom said...

Great post! Some of our friends have tweens and they are constantly texting and on facebook when we visit. Rules and guidelines regarding computers, video games and cell phones will be a definite must for my boys when they become teenagers.

Grace said...

Hi Holly. It is my first time here in your blog and I am so happy to be here. :)

Lisa Beth said...

I like your rules. I have a feeling my oldest (now almost 4) will be asking for techie stuff much much too soon. His dad (especially) and I are really into all the techie stuff so it's bound to happen. Thanks for the ideas for rules!