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Teenagers and Technology

Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2017
I have to admit, I have been pretty on it with keeping track of my child's use of technology. I have a 13 year old stepson who has a cellphone his mother gave him two years ago against our wishes. But, being the "cool parent" of course she's going to give him something that his father and I would not! Now I just have to make sure it's monitored and he's not doing anything illegal or inappropriate with it. (Ugh, teenagers)

Working for Family Watchdog for so long, I have always pushed safety with children's cell phones and tablets. But how did I score with my own kid? Not so well. I am learning just how tricky kids these days really are - and just how easy it is to hide a conversation. Did you know Facebook has a "secret conversation" option? Fantastic huh? We have never let him have snapchat or any of the texting apps - if we can't see it - he shouldn't have it! But of course, on the weekends he went to his mothers, she let him have the iPad which is pre downloaded with it all! So how do I monitor what my child is doing to make sure he is doing what he should be?

I can't!

But for starters I found the login for his Facebook (SCORE!) - which I realize is like a 2% lucky chance. And the chance of him giving it to me was like 0%. So we have a rule, at ANY given time my husband or I can ask for his phone and go through it. There should be no half messages - meaning deleted messages - because we all know that means that a child is hiding something.

So I logged in one day to find him actively messaging his little girlfriend. (As he is sitting right next to me) - Oh my!!! What did I find? Let's just say 13 year olds have the vocabulary as a smut film and we had a talk RIGHT AWAY! His father took his phone away and banned him from having messenger. I also took it upon myself to contact the little girls father via Facebook - because if she is willing to talk to my son like this, she's willing to talk to other boys like this as well. And it needed to be nipped in the butt ASAP! (Her father took it VERY well and we worked together as a team to make sure we talked to our children to prevent this from happening again.)

My son wonders how we saw him. Well after telling him to come here, I had him hand over his phone and we saw his messages. We caught him off-guard so he didn't have time to delete his phone. When he asked how I saw it, I told him I was sitting next to him, I noticed he was acting funny (which he was!)

Talk to my son - check. Take away cellphone - check. Ground from all use of technology - check. Offer in-house supervised dates with girlfriend - check. Tell his mother about all this and make sure she follows up - check. Check in with little girl's father to make sure all is well on their end - check.

My son's mother gives him back his phone as soon as he goes back over there (not even a week later) - cool mom, right? I have learned that some battles are not worth fighting. The best way to prevent your child from doing wrong on the internet is talking to them consistently on the Do's and Don'ts. I have to give my 13 year old space - because if I keep pushing, he will want to live with his mom - and who knows what will happen then.

They do make monitoring software for phones. I have not tried this approach, once again, choose your battles. The best thing I have found SO FAR as we are still approaching the teen years is the "hand over your phone method" - and hopefully for you, it's not a battle between you and child as well as you and other parent. Because I have no answers for that, I am still trying to figure that out myself.

So what works for you and your child?