Boy Mom Book: Can I get your Input? On Boys and Technology.
I’m back again, asking for your input for my upcoming Boy Mom book.
As I am working on the book, I thought I would also share a bit of the writing/publishing process here. I never want to bore anyone with nerdy writer stuff, but some of you have asked me about the process, and I think it would be fun to share. Last week I did a few Instagram stories talking about what I was working on, and the responses were so encouraging. (Feel free to ask specific questions if you’re interested.)
One question I’ve received a lot is about when I find the time to write a book. This always makes me laugh a little (and then cry a little) because it is so true; time rarely opens up naturally! Between homeschooling and all the other family responsibilities, it’s hard enough to write a blog post, let alone a book chapter! I really have to be intentionally about pulling away to get any serious writing done. I’m not great at working on book writing for a short window like I can a blog post, so I need to create chunks of time. (I may be the only person you know who gets excited when we need to get a car serviced. A few hours in the car dealership waiting lounge with bad coffee and daytime television in the background is sometimes my best office. Glamorous, right!?)
Last week, however, while my husband had a few days off work, I got away for a little writing retreat. I stayed at my good friend’s house just across the island while some of her family was out of town. It was seriously magical.
^^ that’s Hawaii Kai, not a bad office view, right?
Before I went away, I had printed off every chapter I have written (in part or full) and I spent the first full day literally reading my own book cover to cover. Since I started writing some of the chapters last June, I was nervous to do this, but I was relieved to find that I seriously love how it’s all coming together! (There will be plenty of editing ahead, but overall…) I just can’t wait to finish this and share it with you guys!
I also can’t wait for you to get to know each of my boys better through the book, and maybe hear some stories that I have saved for all of these years. hehe. (Raising boys is so much fun!)
But the real secret sauce to the book is the feedback I’ve received from YOU…Moms all over the world for the past 7 years. And also why I’m coming to you with some of the topics which will be covered in my book.
Your feedback about boys and a healthy lifestyle was awesome. You guys shared some challenging topics, helpful tips, and hilarious stories. Thank you!
Now! Today...today I come to you with a very hot topic…one that we cannot avoid, (even if we wish we could).
BOYS and TECHNOLOGY.
There’s a whole lot to cover on this topic, but I would truly appreciate it if you would share your experiences, challenges and concerns related to your kids and technology. Perhaps you’re trying to figure the right age give your young child screen time? (And then, how much time to give.) Or maybe you’re concerned about internet safety…and pornography? You might be helping your son navigate social media, or gaming, or apps. or….Yes, the list goes on and on! It’s a HUGE TOPIC! So please let me know the things that affect and concern you and your family the most!
Click on the comment tab below and share your heart on this topic! I truly look forward to reading what you share!
Also, I would really appreciate it if you shared any of these posts using social media buttons below. That way I might hear from an even broader community of parents! (thank you!)
With blessings, and Aloha,
PS If you want to check out a few things I have written related to kids and technology here are 2 posts I have previously shared on related topics:
Teens, the Internet, and Social Media: 7 Steps that might save your kid.
Teens and Instagram (and Youtube) tips for navigating wisely.
What to do when your child sees something they shouldn’t on the internet.
I have an almost 13 y/o who is the ONLY one of his school friends without a phone. (Many of them have had a phone since 4th grade and now have iphone 8s and 10s-at age 12!) I want to be able to give him one of my old phones so that he could reach my or husband or I in the event of a school emergency (if he could not use a school phone) or even when he is out playing in our neighborhood. I am reluctant to go ahead though as whenever he is allowed to play games / listen to music on my phone he NEVER gives it up right away when asked/told to put it away. The same thing with the X- Box (weekend use only) or my computer-it is always “one more second”….which of course it is NOT. I do not want to nag and I do not want an argument or the eye rolls, etc…I guess as I write I am realizing the time is still not right. So perhaps the issue to address would be how to teach them to have that internal monitoring/self control. I fear when he does get a phone he will be in overdrive like he has been deprived, even thought it is not like he does not have tech privileges at home. Ugh. Thankfully he does love to be outside and play with friends and has many other interests…I just dread the back and forth arguing that I fear will come with him having phone even though I know it would make me feel better /safer about being in contact with him and I want to give him the privilege! Technology-a bane and a blessing!
We made the decision before the kids (13yo boys twins, 10yo girl) were born that we would not own a gaming system. When they ask – and, oh, they will – we simply say that is not a use of time we value. We model other behaviors – reading, board games, cards, crafts- that are a better use of time.
As far as safety online, we have a few rules.
1) No devices in rooms.
2) No sleeping with phones. No, not even for alarms – we’ve created alarm clocks.
3) The “family computer” is in the middle of the kitchen where an adult can see what’s happening. They can’t get on without an adult logging in for them.
4) Standards for video games: no cussing, no realistic violence or gore, don’t talk online with people you don’t know IRL.
5) We do have a computer in the guest room cloffice, mostly for those times we have two doing homework simultaneously. It is set on the most protected NetNanny mode available and reports of sites visited are reviewed weekly.
6) We have tablets for long car drives. They are not allowed to use them in our home county (it’s fairly large). They only have wifi connections, and are “loaded” with games and books before we leave. Oh, those tablets belong to the parents – not the kids.
7) When they get phones – and the 13yo guys will probably get them soon – they will be old phones with texting, calling, and a terrible camera. I assume at least one will lose at least one phone (ADHD can be hard) and I want it cheap to replace.
8) Smartphones – this one is tricky. As a sexuality trainer for middle and high school students I know that you are handing them easy access to porn, and making them accessible to the monsters among us. We’ve had lots of talks about appropriate use and what to do if you are uncomfortable with someone you meet online. We won’t allow them to have smartphones until they do the Our Whole Lives curriculum. Smartphones will be enabled with all sorts of tracking and protection. Punishments for disabling or otherwise circumventing those protections will be harsh and swift.
9) Parents will “friend” them and otherwise follow them online. We won’t step in unless it a safety issue but they will be watched.
10) All phones belong to the parents. We reserve the right to take and check them at any time.
11) No phones during family time (meals, church, even watching tv together). This is the hardest for the adults to do but it is *vital* to model responsible tech behavior.
Okay, that may have been more than you were looking for 😉
Not at all more than I was looking for–this is all SO good!! Thank you so much for sharing. And how great that you are a sexuality trainer — you know the concerns first hand I am sure! You have shared some really great ideas, and obviously you’v thought through them well! I truly appreciate you taking the time to share. Much aloha!
Our kids weren’t allowed to have handheld devices in their rooms with closed doors until high school. They really don’t close their doors even now at 17 and 13. Until middle school, their close up screen time was limited to 30 minutes morning and afternoon because my husband is an optometrist, and there is mounting evidence about the amount of damage to their eyes.
None of my boys have their own Ipad, but do have phones once they go to middle school. I would have waited longer, but they walk to and from school, and I wanted them to be able to reach me.
I think if you have good rules in place already, then electronics won’t be a problem. We love to watch movies as a family, and that is something the kids love to do on their own time. Even though we have t.v., it was never much of an option. I insisted that they play outside or with each other. T.v. was saved for sickness and bad weather and family time.
One issue I haven’t really seen addressed is teens and their online friends. My 17-year-old stepson does not live with us (me, my husband, our younger children) full-time, so this issue is not really ours to handle at the moment, but I am concerned about how to approach it with our younger children when the time comes. At present, my stepson has a bunch of online friends who he has met through an online forum, and a few more he has met through social media. He has navigated this on his own, since he was 12 or 13, because his mother does not monitor his internet activities (he has his own laptop and iPhone). He spends several hours most days video-chatting with these online friends, and texts with them throughout the day. He has met a few of them in person, but others live too far away to meet right now.
I wonder what your thoughts are on questions like –
Are forums and social media good/positive/safe avenues for making friends as a teenager?
How can we monitor this and keep our teens safe?
How should screen time be limited when teens have online friends? I would feel badly limiting my kids’ time with their friends and possibly sabotaging their relationships, especially if they struggle to make friends nearby.
Mainly how to transition them from us (parents) monitoring their screen time to them monitoring their screen time. Mainly learning self-control with the amount of time they spend on a screen, what or how they choose to spend their time, and what they expose themselves to on friends’ screens (aka. phones). There are great devices out their now that allow parents to turn screens off if they notice their child is on an unapproved website or has spent too much time on the device. The devices seem tempting, but I find myself resisting because at the end of the day I still need to teach my child self-control and how to self-monitor all things technology. At some point they have to take the reigns.
I’M so thrilled that your book is coming out! You are such an inspiration!
We have a somewhat technology policy for our boys. We have five boys, ages 14–10-6-5, and 20months. The oldest one got a prepaid cellphone this year, and he pays for his own bill by working with my husband on the weekends. He is not allowed to use it after 9pm. Even on weekends. He tells us if there is an app he wants to download and the purpose of it. We do our research, and if it’s okay, we let him. The other four, of course don’t have one. Our fifth grader has a kindle fire that only works with WiFi, and again, he lets us know about any games, we do our research, etc. The other kids don’t have one. We only have one tv, in our living room, and an x-box. They watch tv sometimes during the weekdays, but they mainly play outside or indoors with toys or board games. We allow them to play on the xbox on weekends only for 60mins the 10, 6, and5 years old, and the 14yr old 90min. They have gotten used to it, kind of, and they don’t really get upset or ask why not more time. During the summer we really don’t spend much time indoors, unless it’s super hot, and we watch Netflix or something, but our boys would rather play outside.
Thanks for counting us, your fans, in your book research! 🤗
I have learned SO MUCH from these comments!! Thanks, guys. We have 8 & 10 yo boys and struggle for balance. I know that screen need to be PART of their lives, but not a central focus. My fifth grader has many friends with phones already, but we are holding off. How long? WHo knows- ideally until eighth. Although they are both super busy w/ sports, clubs, church, etc. any and all “down time” would be spent on screens ( mostly youtube) if allowed. My younger has a rough time transitioning off of screens form time to time and has even been caught watching video he shouldn’t about teen video games. So far, as far as I know, pornography isn’t an issue, but the temptation to learn more about games like Call of Duty has proven to be too much to resist for my third grader. I couldn’t believe that game was introduced to him at a third grade birthday party. So, now we see that we have to equip him with the skills to resist temptation. Also, we find him to be angrier if lots of time has been spent on screens.
I can’t wait for your book!
Oh- Screenagers is worth the watch!! Two other documentaries that I found impactful are I am Eleven ( a look at 11 years old around the globe) and Race to Nowhere (a inquiry into why we are pushing our kids so hard so fast) Both were meaningful to me.
Thank you so much Shannon! I agree these comments are super valuable! Thank you for sharing your experience too…we are raising our kids in a time like none before, that is for sure. I’ll be checking out all of those documentaries, thank you for mentioning! Much aloha–
Having scrolled through the responses from the other moms, I also wanted to suggest a book and DVD I have read/watch called Digital Cocaine (Brad Huddleston). It’s eye-opening and talks about how technological addiction has the same effect on the brain as cocaine and is just as addictive. One of the respondents below mentioned the same thing.
We made our boys watch the video too, so they could understand why we are strict about their technology.
I also forgot to mention that the only social media I have allowed our boys to have is WhatsApp, because they use it for class chats about homework and to communicate with their friends. My boys know that I can and do check their chats from time to time. We have had serious chats to them about what is and isn’t allowed. They occasionally ask for other social media platforms and I have said no. They cannot download anything without my husband or myself putting the passwords in, so we know what apps they have and if it is age appropriate.
They attend a private Christian school and the school had a social media lawyer give them a talk about the ramifications of what is posted on social media and how it is out there forever and how their poor choices as a child, can impact their futures forever. I walked out of the talk terrified and wanting to throw away all technology.
It is a new and scary world for us parents who grew up playing outside until it was dark. One we have to negotiate together and help each other with.
Congratulations on your book. All the best with finding the time for it. I am sure it will be amazing.
I thoroughly enjoy your posts.
This boys and technology topic is a bug-bear for me. I really struggle with my 2 boys and their technology.
We have limited it in the past (both access to it and what they are allowed to watch and play).
We are still strict on age-appropriate games, but the access has become a bit more relaxed – and not because I have given in, but just because my kids now have to have tablets for school. I restricted the access on the devices, but then my younger one needed to do research while at school and I had to give him access. We do still remove devices at night. They are not allowed any technology in their rooms.
I find that my boys are completely addicted to technology – particularly my older son. If we try to remove a device he gets really angry. Actually his attitude is terrible even if we interrupt him. It’s ridiculous and is completely unacceptable. I struggle with getting him to understand that there is a whole world out there to do things in and life is not restricted to a little screen.
With every advance in this world, it seems that there is a bit of a disadvantage. Technology is helpful in so many way, but I think the addiction rates are through the roof. My personal opinion.
We used to have the rule like Janeine of no technology during the week and I think it’s time to revert to that rule.
Good luck with the book!
my toddler loves the Ipad and his shows. We do limit them though. We can tell when he has had too much. His attitude changes.
Hi Monica! I am a mom of 4, 2 boys and 2 girls. When my kids were young, a realized very quickly that technology was becoming an addiction for my son. My oldest child is a girl. She could take or leave technology. I didn’t seem to have a hold on her like it did for my son. All day long he would ask, “When can I go on technology?” I got tired of the badgering. I finally decided to make a family rule that there was going to be no technology on school days at all unless it was for a school assignment. My son was in kindergarten at the time. Very quickly he realized I wasn’t going to change my mind and the harassment ended. My wold became peaceful once again. My kids are now 15, 13, 10, and 7 and the rule still stands. We allow them tech time starting Friday night after dinner once they gotten exercise and play time after school. My oldest daughter, 15, travels a lot for competitive gymnastics. She has a smart phone and is home schooled. We have different rules for her cell phone use then our 13 year old son who only had a basic cell phone. There is never technology in their bed rooms. Our family lap top is in the living room and a tv with Xbox is in the basement. All charging is done in the LR at our charging station. It’s not a perfect system, but it has been amazing to see my kids grow closer to one another because they are forced to interact and play with each other on a daily basis. My husband and I try to model the same rule by staying off our cell phones until 8 pm when the younger 2 kids go to bed. We are the ones who need more accountability at times! I love reading about your family. I realize in many ways with my oldest in a high level of competitive sports and home schooled. We are Christian family dedicated to raising our kid family to know and live the Lord. Thank you for your transparency and ministry. Janeine Bunagan, Ramsey, NJ
Thank you Janine, your story is super helpful…Setting firm boundaries (and sticking to them) is about the most effective thing we can do, and it sounds like you’ve done a stellar job of that. Well done! Love hearing how this goes for different families, esp. with unique situations for different children–really appreciate you taking the time to share. Much aloha and blessings. 🙂
Scary stuff guys! I have two boys 5 and 7. Luckily for us, all the info and warnings about screen time was/is available so we said no to all video games, phones, tablets, etc. They are allowed to watch two twenty minute cartoons on t.v. that they can choose and we approve. It’s usually Transformers and Garfield. No sooo bad. Admittedly we have sheilded them immensely from what’s out there, but they hear it from their friends at school. We live in a small town in France so I think it’s a bit more sheltered than the U.S. They know what an iPhone is and they have created their own from cardboard to ‘call’ their friends and play video games. My husband and I were born in 1970 and never really adopted all the tech stuff and really are not that interested in it. I know that sooner or later the boys will put more pressure on us to have those things or play video games. Has anyone successfully banned all tech without major blowback from the kids?
I’ll just jump right in and give my 2 cents on technology…..growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was very much a TV girl, so when I had my 2 boys, I was not opposed to TV or computers at all. In fact, they came in very handy when mom needed a break! Yep! Not ashamed! Both of my boys also loved Legos and Hot Wheels, so I would 100% choose what they were allowed to watch, but then tell them that they had to be playing with Legos if they wanted to watch more than one show.
We always monitored TV and computer, as far as what they could watch. As children and early teens, they were not allowed to scroll through things like YouTube, because of the random trash that would pop up.
As my kids got older, I didn’t restrict them as much, but if something questioning did come up, we would talk about it from a Biblical standpoint.
Because here’s the thing – you can forbid and warn and monitor and put all sorts of safe guards in their way, but the reality is, they all have friends, cousins, etc. who will not have the same values as your family. (And don’t assume your church friends have the same values as you!)
So, the monitoring has to come from what you’ve instilled inside of them (FAITH) and God’s values, because that’s what they take with them, no matter where they are or what they see.
You want them to make good choices because they are sensitive to God’s standards, not because you are standing over their shoulder every second.
So, yes, we have to be so careful with technology, but we also need to be more concerned about our kid’s hearts and the values we are instilling.
I have boys ages 18, 11, and 18 months (yes, you read that right). This topic concerns me with ALL of them! I’ve learned that screen time begets a desire for more screen time. I have to be really intentional about setting boundaries in this area because it’s so addictive (especially video games). It’s challenging when they go to friends’ houses where those boundaries are not in place. That might be an interesting topic! I have one example of how I handled this:
My kids are not allowed to play “live” video games (where they connect with friends or strangers through a game). I found out that my 11-year-old was doing this while playing Minecraft at a friend’s house. I know the parents well at this point, so I just texted the mom about it. She understood where I was coming from, and she agreed it was better to be safe than sorry! 😊
My 10 yr old has become addicted to his PS4. He plays online with his friends only but I’m not sure how long I can monitor this. He knows the risks of talking to strangers and so far has shown me he understands and bocks anyone he doesn’t know. He has become emotional and spends a lot of time in his room where as before he would be kicking a soccer ball all day. The other 3 boys are more into YouTube but this worries me more to be honest.
We have had 6 weeks of school holidays and they go back his week so my rules will come back into play. No devices mid week and limited time in the weekend.
I think we are to blame as well. It’s just so hard to keep fighting with them to get off. I would love to know he secret to them listening to me when I say no and time to get off.
I wish it co I’d just to go back to basics with no technology like when we were kids.
Other comments echo my own experience. My boys will stop playing video games or watching YouTube vids if I (me, myself, I) say “let’s bake something” or “do you want to go to the park?” My struggle is that I have to be the one to make something happen rather than the kids coming up with alternative activities on their own. It’s hard when you are working, taking care of home, yard, bills, errands, etc. to find time to do stuff with them all the time (they are 9 and 11.) just to keep them off of technology!
On the other hand, my one son is amazing at gaming and gets excited about making YouTube videos. I wonder if he might have a career in technology someday. I’m reading Streampunks by Robert Kyncl about the rise of YouTubers. It may be an interesting read as you write on this subject.
It’s all about balance for me. I try to fit in Board games, reading books together, chores, outdoor time, and extracurricular activities into our weeks. I used to have my nose in a book every moment of down time I had growing up. My boys’ generation prefer turning to technology. Feels like the same thing, just a different media source. I do monitor and limit the content (and NO social media), but I’m not of the “no-tech ever” mindset. More about teaching them to balance and self-regulate. I’d be interested in tips for teaching self-regulating as tech isn’t going away.
Excellent input, Heather, thank you so so much!! I think you’re doing a fantastic job. I agree it is about teaching self-regulation, and it sounds to me like you’re well on your way. Thanks for taking the time to share! (And that book does sound really good–I’ll look into it!)
Monica, I feel compelled to write to you about my nephew who was homeschooled, strong Christian family, and one day… his grades dropped to zeros. He was in 10th grade and one of the online instructors contacted his mother to notify her. Her son made all kinds of excuses and then one day his older sister happened to walk into a room just before he was ready to kill himself. He had become addicted to internet pornography via using the computer during his schoolwork. It started very “innocently” by just clicking on a picture of Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. From there the ads became more and more enticing.
He knew it was wrong, but could not stop on his own and was to ashamed to confess and ask for help. He kept thinking he could conquer it on his own. It is my understanding that homeschooled boys are the most “at risk” group. This is a tragic national crisis that I do not think we have seen the top of the iceberg yet.
Oh that is just a horrible story, I’m so so sorry for what your family has gone through. I agree it is not so unusual, and I’m glad you shared as it is so important to be aware of. There are filters and a lot of apps to help parents guard their kids, but nothing (and no one!) is fool proof. I really appreciate you sharing and I pray your nephew is on a healthy road to full recovery! aloha-
They actually had filters but many filters do not allow access to websites and other scholastic assignments so parents often have to pull the plug on some restrictions to allow access to what is needed 🙁
Boys. God created them to have a natural desire and curiosity for ….girls. Tragically with technology etc boys run the risk of being exposed very very early ….to porn. The earlier a young man is exposed to porn the more likely it is he will suffer a lifelong battle of addiction. Chemicals are released in the young boys brain that “bond” him to the porn (much like a nursing mother to her newborn baby). Over time habitual porn viewing shrinks the frontal cortex of the brain from its original size of a small fleshy meatloaf to that of a hard shriveled walnut.
It’s a very sneaky industry (Porn) and they know exactly how to entice and trap our young men. Did you know that there is an all time record of young men in their early 20s w/ ED???? Unheard of in all of history. This is because of habitual acting out w/ Porn. It is such a secret/ shameful activity that young men will hide at all costs – all the while its escalating. New research is documenting that a porn addiction is far more difficult to conquer than heroin or crack cocaine. The latest research is showing MRIs of the brains of young men who view porn are far more changed than a heroin addict.
All this on top of our young boys are getting their first experience w/ sexual interaction via false intimacy. It is changing the way they will view their future wife and already sets them up for heartache and family destruction long before they are ever married!
It’s a tragic situation so alarming that many states have declared internet pornography a public health emergency. Parents ..don’t be fooled into thinking “my son would never”….
My boys got a ps4 for Christmas- since then they’ve been obsessed with the game fortnite…They would play it 24 hours a day 7’days a week if I let them. I really need help coming up with some rules around how much they can play etc. I like that they can play it with friends and that there is a strategy involved- and there are far worse things they could be doing and getting in to so I have been pretty relaxed about it. There has to be a happy medium though! Any advice here would be much appreciated!
I hope this isn’t discouraging to your readers. ..just keepin it real. We did all the right things. We used software protection on the computers and devices, no alone screen time, open conversations about the dangers of pornography, no cell phones until high school age, etc etc. We patted ourselves on the back for being tech savvy and proactive. And yet, our son still found a way and was drawn into porn. We later had to deal with the heartbreaking ramifications and pay for counseling to work through it all. Today he is 17 and now understands why we wanted to protect him. No plan is full proof because our hearts are desparately wicked. But God’s grace has prevailed in our situation and things are looking much brighter and hopeful for our son and his future.
I’m so sorry Jennifer. I truly appreciate your comment…you are so right — though all of the protective efforts are so important, nothing is completely safe, and indeed, it will come down to the heart. Sounds like you’ve handled thing the very best you can. Thank you for your honest story and I wish you all the best moving forward. Blessings!
I have a 13 year old. He has a PS4 and plays with his friends via the internet. On Friday was one of his friends birthday (turned 14) and they stayed up late to celebrate his birthday by playing a marathon session. I was shocked and surprised that they didn’t want a hang out instead!!! We have to careful monitor the amount of time he plays on the weekend because if it was up to him he would play all day. He can only use his PS 4 on the weekend. Since he is 13 communication with us is to a minimum!! We have to pry everything out of him, however when he is playing on line with his friends there is so much communication with them. If you put the same boys in a room you can hear a pin drop!!! While I use a desktop, laptop and smartphone every day I am sick of all the technology. It’s a double edge sword. Look I learned to type on a manual typewriter so I have evoled. We will not give our son an iPhone and we are continuously lecturing about the dangers of technology and how it could have adverse effects on his future!!! It’s here to stay but we want to limit his use. He has a Chromebook for school and utilizes Googleclassroom where homework assignments are posted. So technology is a big part of his life every day. I am encouraging him to learn coding so he can develop games instead of just playing!!!! Please send questions and I would be happy to answer them.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so helpful to hear and it is just another reminder that we are in very unchartered territories as we raise kids in this generation. It is complicated. Sounds like you are being very wise and thoughtful and I wish you all the best moving forward. Bless you!
We decided when the boys were babies that we would not do the video games at all. I caved when they were about 9 & 7 and go them an Xbox because all their friends had them. We saw very quickly how fast the addiction came on, esp with our oldest. We noticed that they didn’t want to do anything else because nothing seemed to excite them as much. While we were on our winter trip in Hawaii last year (and boys didn’t have the Xbox), we noticed their personalities come back and it was as if we had our boys back. We decided to do away with the Xbox when we came home and explained that they were not being punished but that we saw the difference and feel it’s just not something that we want them to play any longer.
I love that story, Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing. You did the hard but right thing for your kids in your situation. Proud of you!
As a admitted helicopter mom, I have stuggled with my son’s love of video games. I am a stay at home mom/tutor for my only 14 year old son. He has gone to private schools since kinder. I feel that his love for gaming has made him overlook other opportunities to become interested in other things. Yes, he does have a limit. They are not allowed in his room. We are doing everything “right,” and I feel it has isolated him from others. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have allowed this high energy boy to have a DS in kindergarten (gift from grandma.). The younger they are given a device, the harder it is to break the cycle. A device is always an “escape,’ and a constant temptation for my son. As a 14 year old, he no longer has a phone, iPod, ipad, etc. He has a chromebook for school. This has been a constant struggle for my husband and I! I know God has a plan for him and I pray everyday that he will get into something better!
Wow, that is super interesting and helpful. THANK YOU for taking the time to share. I really appreciate your story and I think you’re doing an amazing job. Blessings–
My boys are 7, 5, & 3 so my own experience is pretty limited. But I heard Andy Crouch, author of Tech-Wise Family on a podcast recently and loved what he shared about kids and technology… So much that I bought his book! I just got it yesterday and can’t wait to dive in.
Thanks, Julie! Tech-Wise Family is a great book! (I will be sharing a few quotes from Andy in my book.) I love how his book is really focused on the quality of family life and quality of life in general. Let me know what you think, ok? Enjoy! 🙂 (PS Which podcast did you hear him on? I heard him on Donald Miller’s StoryBrand, but if he’s on another one I’d love to check it out. :))
We raised 3 boys, all now grown (and we think they are pretty wonderful!) While they were growing, advice was given to us to collect devices in the evening so they were not in the room with the guys as they slept. We didn’t do that, since it just seemed so “extreme”. I really, really regret that now. I wish we’d held the line and found a way to at least take phones from their bedsides. Sleep is so important to the health of teens, as is some time away from the constant drone of social media, peer groups, etc. Unfortunately, my kids never got that–the screen was glowing at their side all night. Although we forbade incoming calls after bed time (we have a land line plus their friends have our cell numbers for emergencies), there is no way to control your kids’ friends behavior. (Nor were my kids perfect!) I know from studies that people don’t sleep as well when a phone is at their side. I also know of many nights when they really needed a good night of sleep but missed it because of an ’emergency’ late night call about homework, etc. that should have come in much earlier in the day, or someone just wanted to text with them after they’d gone to sleep. Regrets for me and our kids, but I hope this will help other parents guide their own children into a more healthy balance with phones, etc.
Thank you, Deb. Super good feedback! I know you did a lot of great things, so I truly appreciate you thinking of one thing that you wish you had done differently to share–that is the stuff that will help others the most! 🙂 Much aloha
Hi, We have a nine-year-old son who LOVES video games (Mario, Pokemon and Kirby). He gets no screen time on school days, a rule I swiped from a neighbor whose boys already had the same restriction. He does get screens on weekends and during the summer (he’s at day camp all day doing sports and games). At first I doubted myself because he really was miserable, but now it’s just life as usual. And he does do a few activities and sports during the school year, but usually I end up playing board games, Pokemon cards, etc. with him after dinner since he’s an only child. He has a few friends with phones but I’m not planning on letting him have one until at least age 14. Technology is hard for me. At times I wonder if depriving him of screens makes him want them even more. Really like your blog!
Thank you so much for sharing, Mary! That is super helpful. It is so interesting I think how at first we fear our limitations or boundaries will make our kids go crazy, but they really do adjust. It’s just about being strong enough to do what you know is right. Well done!! Blessings to you and thanks for taking the time to comment! aloha-
Have you been lucky enough to see Screenagers? I think the tag line is “parenting in the digital age” or something. It really changed the way I looked at my boys and their screens. It also opened up my eyes to video addiction and how real that is. It’s a fantastic documentary. One of the most interesting things, though, is the difference between the girls and the boys. They’re just drawn to different things technologically speaking. I only have boys so I can’t do any at home comparisons but I think they did a pretty spot on job with the boys. It’s a struggle.
My biggest issue is video games are how my oldest connects with his friends. That’s how they play. When I take them away he has no other people to connect with because the other boys are all on their gaming systems, with their head sets on, and now my son is left out. In an ideal world I could tell my son to find other people to play with or find something else to do, but is it fair to punish him because the kids he hangs out with all like video games? When they’re in school, they talk about video games. When they’re not together they text or talk about video games. When they are able, they are gaming. I only allow my son to play with people he knows in “real life” and it’s already putting him in a difficult position because his friends like to play on public servers so they will go play without him. It’s a CONSTANT struggle. How much freedom do I give him to be with his friends but still be able to reign in his time on the screen and regulate his use and interaction with strangers on the WWW? I feel like I’m punishing him, embarrassing him, grounding him, keeping him from his friends, and all I want at the end of the day is a man who isn’t addicted to video games, who can relate to people in face to face situations. He hasn’t actually done anything wrong. We just want different things.
Oh Wow Becka…SUCH a helpful comment. You are not alone, this is a problem that is so common, and you are doing a great job of doing your very best to be fair, balanced, and holding on to your convictions. I wish there was some quick easy answers for this, but there just isn’t. For now I encourage you to keep communicating…letting your son know you are FOR HIM, and this is truly for his best. It would be ideal if he found some friends through sports or other activities who were not so into games. Not all kids are like this, though it probably seems they are (and many are!) Perhaps getting him to try a new extra curricular activity would introduce him to some new friends, some who may have more varied interests. ALSO: I actually HAVE NOT seen Screenagers movie but I’m so glad you mentioned it because I have been meaning to. That is definitely something I will watch soon. Blessings and hang in there!!
My firstborn is 8, and the thought of preparing him to access the Internet on his own is overwhelming. Besides the technical how-to’s, I wonder about child-safe websites, non-identifying usernames, safe passwords, information to NOT share online,… We homeschool, so he is not going to learn this stuff (the right way) unless we are intentional about it, and I feel like I don’t even know where to begin.