When we’ve talked to parents about why they don’t want their child to know their being monitored, one of the biggest concerns is that it won’t be as effective. They worry that if their child knows mom or dad is keeping an eye on them, they may become even more secretive.
But that’s simply not true. Informed monitoring can be a great tool for teaching and family bonding, and can also have an even stronger positive impact on your child’s behavior. Studies have shown that among teens just knowing their parents were watching helped them moderate their own behavior.
Kids may feel more comfortable approaching you about what they see and hear on their smartphone because they already know you’re more aware of it, too.
Now that your kids know you’re using phone monitoring, here’s how to continue monitoring them in a way that makes everyone feel happy and safe:
Team Up to Make a “Cheat Sheet”
It’s time to put your powers together and create guidelines that you both can look to when issues come up. This is especially important with older kids to help set the standard for your younger ones.
For example, have family discussions about what to do if…
- You see or experience cyberbullying
- Someone asks for sexts or nude photos
- Someone you don’t know contacts you online
- An online friend wants to meet you in person
You can also use resources to come up with answers to some of these questions. If it ever comes up while you are monitoring them, you’ll both have a clear resource to guide you through it.
Be Proactive In Starting Conversations
Monitoring doesn’t mean you sit back and expect your child to figure out what’s right and wrong on their own. Even if your child knows they are being monitored, they may still make naive mistakes without even realizing what they’re doing is wrong or dangerous.
Monitor them with the intent of following up. Every week, pick out something that you saw from their smartphone and give them feedback:
- I love how you answered that person when they were mean to you
- Next time they say that, perhaps you should pause before responding so you don’t sound so angry.
Be aware of what’s going on at school and in the news. We live in a world where even our political systems are affected by cyberbullies. If they see bad behavior publicized, they may react or mimic it. Be vigilant about using these opportunities as teaching lessons.
With monitoring, there are important takeaways we want our children to learn. We want them to think before posting, learn the warning signs of predators, and still live healthy lives online and off. How do we achieve this? Here are a few things you can teach your child:
- Walk your child step-by-step through privacy settings. Have any social profiles set to private and turn off geotagging. (Geo-tagging is an easy way for predators to find victims in their area).
- Limit screen time. Even though you’re monitoring, your child should not be glued to their phones 24/7. Set aside time for family meals, at bedtime, and even for blocked hours on the weekends where no screens are allowed. They can have fun outside with their friends!
- Teachable Moments. Use what’s happening in the media, and conversations you see on their phones, to use as conversation starters. Tell them what they did well, and what they could do differently next time. And most importantly, have an ongoing dialogue so you can give them ideas for how to handle things they haven’t been exposed to yet.
Giving them preemptive advice about potential situations they may be exposed to can make a significant difference. They’ll be better prepared to face difficult situations and will have a framework for dealing with new circumstances. These lessons may seem small now, but they will be infinitely useful as technology continues to become more of a staple to their future.