Technology is our Frenemy

Don’t feel like reading? No problem, skip to the bottom where I highlight my house rules when it comes to technology and apps available for parents to help monitor their kids devices. Our kids are

Don’t feel like reading? No problem, skip to the bottom where I highlight my house rules when it comes to technology and apps available for parents to help monitor their kids devices.

Our kids are growing up in a new world, and it’s one that I believe, is foreign to us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with the new norm, where kids socialize online and spend most of their free time looking at some sort of a screen. Don’t get me wrong, my kids have other hobbies (like sitting around asking me what I’m doing every 5 minutes.), but gone are the days where kids were outdoors no matter the temperature, time of day, or time of year.  I can only imagine what it might be like for my now 8 month old in 10 years?!

We are, and I am talking about anyone in between the ages of 35 and 50, a part of a pivotal generation. Technology is both a friend (I mean come on, we can shop from home in jammies!!) and a foe… social media can be really tough on our self-esteem (FOMO anyone?).

I’m in a constant state of tug of war with myself over the use of technology by my kids. On one hand, I see that it is how kids socialize and play together now, but on the other hand, there are days I want to grab their phones and throw them through a window as I yell “ read a BOOOOOOOOOOK”. Ya feel me?  And I will admit, it was a long, hard winter so the use of their devices was probably higher this year than normal. But as we slowly roll into spring, I am hoping that they find new ways to entertain themselves, minus the tech, without needing us parents to hold their hands through the process!

The other day, I showed my 13 year old son how to play Solitaire with cards, and you’d think I was torturing him. I suggested playing a board game with his sister, during a “no screen” time, and they refused. Instead they wandered aimlessly around, hovering over me while I cleaned up and did laundry.  They eventually helped with the cleaning which was great, but it’s such a contrast to my own childhood, where we were outdoors playing with others for HOURS at a time. My kids would rather clean than play outside?! I don’t think my kids even know how to be bored.. I only wish I could be bored again. Ahhh to sit and do nothing!! What a dream!

As parents, we try to set the right example, but for me, sitting down with my phone on social media is a break from the norm, NOT the actual norm.  Ok well not EVERY day…

And although we probably use our smartphones a BIT more than we should, I believe that as adults, we have EARNED that time. ( Do I hear an AMEN??)

We‘ve paid our dues. As kids and teens, we played outside till the streetlamps came on. We would gather all the neighborhood kids and play baseball in a field. No matter how much older/younger they were, or what school they went to. We biked, ran, jumped rope, climbed trees, built forts, or just hung out with other kids on someone’s porch until it was dinner time or dark out. We have a ton of kids in our neighborhood, yet I rarely see any of them outside. Yes, I see some kids playing street hockey, or biking every once in a while, but not everyday.     

In any case, if you are a parent of a 7 to 14 year old, and you feel like you are in some kind of twilight zone, please know you are NOT alone.  We are all trying to navigate this new norm. But I still believe that we can show them that there is more to life than what is on their screens, and given how we turned out, I think it’s worth the effort. And by effort, I mean kick them outside and lock the doors.. Grab your phone and a glass of wine (It’s 5 O’clock somewhere) and don’t let em back in until the sun goes down..or someone is bleeding.

Looking for some tips on how to manage the screen time? Here are some rules we’ve set in place, and although it’s not perfect, It definitely helps.  You can also set up some Parental Control apps in the devices which I cover below as well.

  1. Rooms must be cleaned and beds made before you use any electronics.
  2. No Instagram or Facebook allowed until you are 14
  3. Playstation gaming/Youtube watching is 1 hour after school then 1 hour at night on weekdays and 2 hours on weekends. (Unless there is a test or homework, then no electronics allowed)  
  4. No complaints when we ask you to help with chores ( this includes any eye rolling or sighing)  
  5. As of 9 pm no phones allowed.
  6. Must read for 30 minutes before bedtime
  7. We have access to your phone/devices and follow your activity and can look through your phone/device any time we choose.

These rules may seem strict to some, and lax to others but for us it’s important that

  • School comes first
  • Household responsibilities take priority over what’s going on, online
  • Use of the devicesis a luxury to be appreciated and respected

Parental Control Apps

Here are some that had the most reviews on Itunes, but in full disclosure, they don’t have very good reviews. Most seem like more of a hassle than anything. Causing glitches, locking parents out of their own phones, deleting apps, and losing internet connection.

Also, although some say they are free, it’s for a basic coverage and for typically one device only. If you have more than one kid/device then you have to pay for a premium membership.

Finally, given the strict applications, and how they affect other apps, these may be geared more towards very young children as opposed to kids over 10 years of age

The best one seems to be Mobicip Parental Control – If you are looking for an app this may be a good option. It had the best reviews and the least glitches.

The ones to avoid (based on reviews) are these:

  • Boomerang
  • Kidlox
  • UnGlue
  • Screentime
  • SaferKid
  • LifeStyle Parental Control

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