Over 5 years ago, in the chaos of a cross-country move, we handed over an abandoned smartphone to our 12-year-old.
She is the classic oldest child—super responsible—the kind of kid that cleans her room without being asked.
The phone seemed like a good idea. She could stay connected with old friends and we could reach each other in a place where we didn’t know anyone.
One day our daughter came home from school and while spooning cereal into her mouth with one hand, she was scrolling with the other hand—and not talking to me. It used to be a "How was your day?" moment, but suddenly the phone was more important than our daily chat. I wondered where my kid went.
A few months later I was leaning over the kitchen counter looking at my own phone when I came across a video of our daughter lip-syncing an inappropriate song she found online. I knew she didn’t really grasp the meaning of the lyrics, but I realized at that moment we had failed her. We had given her too much too soon.
My husband and I agreed we needed a major tech reset in our home.
We replaced the smartphone with a brick phone with no internet access (all we had then. There were many tears. As parents, it was one of the most challenging, yet smartest things we've done to safeguard our family from the harms of the online world.
I don’t wish this experience on any other family. And unfortunately, many families have experienced much worse. I don’t say this to scare you, but to help you understand that when you hand a device to a child you are handing them the world.
We can’t completely protect our children from all the harms out there, but we can prepare them (and ourselves!).
As our children grow and enter adolescence we take on a new role. Instead of being in charge of every moment in our children's lives, we become more of a coach and mentor.
Add tech into the mix, and it becomes a tricky tightrope indeed!
Teens today use technology to connect with their friends and peers (normal part of adolescence!), to learn, create, and be entertained.
But, we can’t just hand over a device and walk away. There are too many risks. Our teens’ brains are still under construction and well, they’re teens! (Remember those days?)
With my background in secondary education, I set out to create a new approach to teens and tech—a team approach, centered on mentoring, not just monitoring our teens.
The result was our course Untangling Teens & Tech. I've loved hearing how the principles in that course have changed the tech trajectory for so many teens and parents at a critical point in their lives.
And now I'd like to invite you to join me as we tackle tech and mentor our teens together in just 4 weeks!