It is hard as a parent to say NO to your children in normal situations, but with all that is going on in the world, it is even harder. There are many books on the market that help teach parents to say no. David Walsh wrote a book called No: Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say and I had a parent group read it in the past. It was interesting to hear parent stories about how hard it was to say no to your child.
We have all been at the store when your child asks you to buy something like a candy bar. It is hard to say no, but there are times when we must. Saying no doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent and students need to learn that they can’t have everything. I wrote before about giving my daughter control over her money and it really helped with not having her ask me for everything. She now has to decide if she wants to spend money on the candy she sees or save it for the iPhone she wants. This will be a great skill to have when she is older.
We are hearing from parents that they are struggling to get students to work and stay off video games and youtube. Some adults are struggling to stay off of Facebook or other social media sites. It is OK for you to make a rule that there can be no technology used for pleasure until school work is done. We use this rule in our home and it seems to work well. It was hard to get started, but it was worth it!
One other problem we are hearing about from parents is students struggling with issues relating to technology used at night or on the weekends. Many students are online using apps and social media sites that are age-restricted above their age. Some even have their accounts open to the public and can be viewed by anyone. Why do we as parents allow them to use these sites? Here are some examples:
Facebook – Age 13
Instagram – Age 13
Whatsapp – Age 13
WeChat – Age 18 [age were considered a minor] (13 and older with parental approval)
Youtube – Age 18 (13 and older with parental approval)
TikTok – Age 18 (16 and older with parental approval)
Most of these restrictions are set by US law through the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and are designed to keep children safe. Some children are not ready to deal with the content or the interactions associated with having these accounts. Many times when I have met with parents and students about their online behavior, parents tell me they either didn’t know there was an age restriction or they just couldn’t say no. Every parent should spend some time on the Commons Sense Media website to see what you can do to support your child.
Take a few minutes and go into one of your online accounts now and look at your photos. Could someone find you? Could they find your child? Did you ask your child if you could post their photos? Are there things in the background or is there writing on your clothing that might indicate where you are or where they might find you? Are you OK with others knowing this information? If not, check your privacy settings. You would be amazed at how many people have their accounts with no restrictions on them. Please watch this video about Sharenting. Have you asked your child if you can post their image? I just did this with my daughter and her graduation photos. We sat down together and discussed which ones could be shared.
I am telling you now that you as parents can say NO. Your child needs you to say NO. If you have already opened the door for these online apps, you might want to sit down together and look at the privacy settings. You could also talk about how your child is using social media and what they should do if they get into a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. I speak from experience that this is not easy, but remember, you are not alone in this struggle. Good luck!
Gávea Lower School Principal