There are many courses out there to help parents upskill and know how to help make being online safe for their children. However, it is essential that after you’ve learned about blocking sites/what you want your child to access, you have a conversation with them about how you will implement these rules.
Make sure the phone rules are a collaborative process between you and your child. By the pre-teen years, your child will have developed a good sense of who they are and what’s right/wrong, so include them in creating a plan for the phone to be something that benefits their lives.
Write down some basic rules that will keep them safe. Children of this age need lots of guidance around the detail of handling conversations/what they see/hear. Here are some guides to being with:
Will there be phones before school/after school/after homework/weekends?
Where does the phone live when it is turned off at the end of the day?
Let your child know if you’ll be checking their phone and what you’ll be looking for, and if they see something they’re unsure of, have a plan in place to speak with your child about it openly and helpfully.
Is there a time limit for how much your child can be on the phone per day?
Are there jobs you’d like your child to do to pay for the phone?
Have a conversation about being part of groups online – how will your child interact?
Explore talking online – are online friends real friends?
Be clear that there is no sharing of body parts/asking for images of body parts.
Know that your child will probably make mistakes online – haven’t we all? What’s crucial is that your child knows they can come to you with anything they see or hear that doesn’t feel right. Have a conversation about the observed not feeling right and help your child tune into this.
Your child moving forward in their world and having new ways to communicate is terrific, but it is the next level in your relationship of trust with them. I meet many parents who use the phone as a medium to trust their children (if they break the rules, the trust is a broken type of thing), but this is the wrong way around. By the pre-teen years, a parent should have a trusting relationship with their child not because of outside influences such as phones and technology, but because they know who they are, their values and how they go about things.
Don’t use the phone to test your child. Use a phone to deepen your relationship with them.
If anything in this blog resonates with you and you’d like support to create change, you’re welcome to book a free call with Bethan here to explore your support options. Make sure you download your free 5 Steps to Calmer Parenting to help develop new skills for coping with what’s hard and if you’re looking for immediate parenting support, you can start your free 7 day trial in the Calm Parenting Club.