Five years ago I phoned a friend asking for advice on how to keep my kids safe on devices.
My kids were getting older. Schools were starting to send devices home. I felt all this pressure for my kids to succeed in school and life by being tech-savvy. (Hogwash by the way—kids figure this all out in due time.)
My friend gave me a lot of advice, but the one thing she said that has stuck with me ever since was this line: “Trust your gut.” If something doesn’t feel right or you keep getting a nudge to check on a certain child or device, then do it.
Even in a house with limited tech (no TV sitting out, no gaming consoles), school iPads are used often by my older kids for schoolwork. They also have access to cell phones (Gabb for the 12 and 14-year-olds) and an iPhone for our 17-year-old.
Just yesterday I decided to trust my gut about something and my gut was right. Was the violation anything super troubling? Nope. But it contradicted our family tech plan and I’m glad my teen and I had the conversation so we can hopefully prevent future problems.
We show our kids we love them when we take time to do things that are uncomfortable.
Here are five ways you can follow those gut instincts.
1. Prioritize essential tech conversations. Use our discussion guide or for more hand-holding, research, and hands-on tools—our course, Creating a Tech-Healthy Family!
2. Check phone, browser, and app history weekly. Tools such as Bark can help, but nothing can replace a parent’s due diligence! Untangling Teens & Tech will help you take a relationship-first approach with your teen as you walk through these digital checks and balances.
3. Sit next to your kids and learn from them. Make tech decisions together. Kids use tech intuitively—use that to your advantage. In CATHF, we help you create a tech plan with your kids. In UT&T we walk you through a one-on-one approach with your teen so you can create tech boundaries together.
4. If your child says, “Why don’t you trust me?” tell them, “The internet is an unmonitored digital playground where everyone plays by their own rules. I don’t trust the internet. It is my job to keep you safe.”
5. Remember, trust is built over time. Our kids don’t need us to trust them right now. There’s too much working against them. They need us to lead in love and confidence… The trust will come.
Parents have shared their own gut-check moments with us over the years…
“One night after having one of the family discussions outlined in the course, we decided to check our search history (this was prompted by our discussion earlier in the evening) and discovered that one of our children had been searching for porn on the internet. We had a filter–I naively thought that was enough.
We have since been able to have many open and honest discussions about pornography with our children and particularly with the child who was searching out images. I am so grateful to Better Screen Time for giving us the opportunity to discover this–had it not been for the discussions, it might have gone on for years and years without our knowledge.
What could have been a lifetime addiction has instead become a chance for us to love our child unconditionally—it’s actually brought us closer together in so many ways.”
-Sara, mom of 4
Trust your gut, friend.
Let tech help you tackle the tech.
Then allow your gut-check to turn worry into an opportunity to connect with your kids.
- Use kid-safe phones.
- Use parental controls, especially on your router. We love the Gryphon router and it turns off our Wi-Fi every night for us. 😉 Our code lovebetterscreentime-15 will get you $15 off any Gryphon router.