OKAY, MAYBE OUR STATEMENT IS A LITTLE EXTREME.
Hear us out. First of all, we aren’t talking about adult children that may still be on your plan throughout college. As for minors, some parents may still cringe at the idea of monitoring. Believe it or not, this is a controversial topic in our world. We can see why. It sounds a little contradictory to the importance of privacy we so often emphasize. But think of it this way, cell phones and other electronic devices are not like writing notes in class. Electronic devices are massive tools that are used across the world to organize revolutions, protests, facilitate sex trafficking and even recruit for terrorist groups. It sounds extreme, but they aren’t organizing by passing notes in the hallway that’s for sure and we aren’t saying your child is the next recruit – it’s just that the potential is literally at their fingertips for anything.
For example: We don’t let our children just take the car when they turn 16 without extensive training – why should we trust they can navigate access to the entire world from an “innocent” device.
There are some people that do not get their child a cell phone in the first place; however, this is not feasible for most families as they are coordinating multiple after school activities, have more than one child, the child goes between two homes or more realistically, they simply want their child to have what most other children have.
If you start the practice of periodically checking in with your child’s devices, it will be normal and not an “I’m going to catch you” approach. Be open and ask your child to show you the new things they have been doing with their devices. Think of it like knocking on their bedroom door before you come in. Encourage them to teach you the latest apps and videos they have seen. Want to be really proactive? Show them a couple examples of things you have found interesting or funny on your device and ask them to show you theirs. You don’t have time? Do it in line at a store, while waiting in the car or for an appointment. Who knows – this could be a fun activity between you and your child(ren).