When Denver was young as we neared Christmas, Erik suggested getting him a Nintendo DS.
My first reaction? An immediate, resounding, “NO.”
After much debate, discussion, and a little cajoling, I gave in. The first child device entered our home.
From there it expanded. A Playstation, an iPod, a Wii, a tablet.
We thought our established rules were enough.
No accounts I did not know about.
NO accounts I did not know about.
I am to have access to ALL passwords, all accounts, all the time.
The devices did not stay in the bedroom.
I could take the devices and nose around at any time.
Did I mention – no accounts I didn’t know about?
I tried parental controls, but they were minimal on the early devices.
I tried communication (*side note: have you ever tried talking to a brick wall? It’s beyond fun, I promise. No, really. Come talk to my teen, you’ll love it. </end sarcasm>)
I tried prying and sneaking. Once it was known I was looking, sneak accounts were made. When I discovered the sneak accounts, more were made.
The past couple of years have been a nightmare that dissolved into all devices (including the school issued iPad) were taken away. The teen is now device-less save for a cell phone that is a flip phone–as dumb as they come.
So when the time came earlier this year to figure out a birthday present for the girls, you can imagine my immense trepidation when the husband yet again suggested, “What about tablets?”
Again the debate raged.
“Look what happened when we started down this road last time.”
“But we learned so much. We know now what not to do.”
“I know – but look what happened when we started down this road last time.”
“They won’t have internet access. We’ll have parental controls.”
“But…I won’t lose them to the devices like I did him.”
“We learned a lot.”
In the end, yes…we got tablets for the girls for their birthdays.
I made sure, despite the girls age of 9 & 10, that they had the best kid-friendly devices. I downloaded acceptable apps, I blocked internet access and everything BUT the acceptable apps (thanks to a kid-zone sort of app). So they can’t play with settings, or shop for more apps, they can’t see anything but the apps I chose for them.
They aren’t allowed to play on it EVERY day, and they aren’t allowed to play for them for hours on end. Plus, their time on the device is tracked (I can set limits, but have not yet).
I have learned from my mistakes, and while I’m still not entirely comfortable with the girls having devices, I’m much more comfortable with how we’re handling things this time.
Trust is earned, not freely given.
My noose might be tighter this time around, but experience taught me some painful lessons these past few years.
What about you? Do your kids have devices? What sort of restrictions do you place on them?