Note From Keri Lyn ~ I just wanted to mention how thrilled I am to have Eileen guest posting this series on the blog! Eileen has been a dear friend for several years. She is an amazing mom and honestly THE very funnest person to visit Disneyland with. I love her passion for protecting our kids and families in social media and I am SO thrilled to have her sharing her expertise here weekly with all of us!
This post is the third in this series. Make sure to read Eileen’s other posts: How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Media and Questions to Help Start Social Media Conversations with Your Kids.
With that, I introduce to you my friend Eileen:
Hi there! My name is Eileen Calandro and I’m thrilled to create content for She Saved readers once a week. (Thank you, Keri Lyn!) I’ve been teaching classes about parenting kids on social media for years and also enjoy doing assemblies about being good digital citizens for elementary school kids. I used to teach first grade before I had my three sons (it’s not just a television show from the 60’s) and recently worked in social media as a community manager for six years. Now I’ve combined my love of teaching and social media into creating my classes and assemblies.
I write like I talk -and I talk a lot! (I listen, too. Life’s all about balance, right?) I hope this weekly conversation offers you helpful information about parenting your digital citizen and ways to connect with your kids about social media.
One of the most common questions and topics in my Parenting Kids on Social Media classes begins like this: “What are ways to limit my kid’s time on social media?” Or it can even sound closer to this: “My kids use their devices all day long and I hate it! HELP!” Since this comes up in every class I teach, I figure you, you fabulous readers of this blog, could benefit from the answers I get from these discussions.
Of course, one solution or suggestion can’t possibly work for everyone, so take what works for you. Or keep trying different things until something works! That’s how a lot of parenting happens anyway, isn’t it?
Here you go: Ways to Set Time Limits on Social Media
Many families create technology-free zones and/or times for their families and homes. Keeping cell phones away from the dinner table works well for many families. However, if your home is like ours, we use our phones to control the music played during dinner (and if your husband is like mine, he changes up the music as the meal progresses depending on what type of food we eat and what topics we discuss. Wait! I’m the only one with a husband like this? *sigh* Anyway….) and this causes a phone to be on the table during our meals.
With every rule there may need to be exceptions, right? Also, rules need to change as kids develop and grow into different stages with technology.
Here’s an example: One family from one class proclaimed bedrooms as technology-free zones. The kids in this family range in age from 10-13 so this can work for them. I could see that as kids get older into the later teen years, this rule might need to change and kids could be trusted to keep devices in their rooms for certain times of the day.
A rule that seems the most popular and has scientifically-proven advantages for optimal sleep: put all devices to bed every night. Humans, especially teens with still-developing minds, need time to wind down before sleep. Putting devices into a centrally-located charging destination creates a portal for the whole family. Remember: kids learn more from what they see you doing than from what they hear you saying. Be an example of this every night.
I hear you. “But Eileen! We don’t have a landline at our house and if there’s an emergency call I need to have my phone near me to get that call!”
You absolutely do. You’re right. If this scenario happens for your family it makes sense to have the phone near you. Program your phone so only certain numbers get pushed through at certain times. Turn off notifications for everything else. I also strongly suggest discussing with your kids why your phone is accepted in your room and not in theirs. Sure, you’re the parents and we’re all adults and adults get different rules from kids. But I just mentioned kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Talking with them about WHY the phone stays in your room gives you a leg to stand on when your kids want to have their phone in their room.
You may hear reasons like this: “But my phone has all my music on it and I need it to fall asleep!” It’s taking things back to the Dark Ages, but buy a CD player or radio for the room if they really need music.
“But my alarm is on my phone and I don’t have an alarm clock!” Guess who’s getting an alarm clock for Christmas at the same time they get a phone? (One family actually did this and good for them! The child got a phone AND an alarm clock with a radio. Happy Holidays and keep that phone out of your room at night!)
“But what if one of my friends needs to get in touch with me because it’s an emergency?” This seems like a pretty weak excuse, but it’s been tried, believe me. Make sure the friends with “emergencies” (yep. I air-quoted that word) have your number and they can call you. Maybe this friend is one you want to keep close tabs on anyway. Win-win!
Remember: We are the parents and we get to make the rules. Yes, then we also need to enforce them, so make rules your’e willing to follow through with. Also, model appropriate social media and cell phone use for your kids. (Sure -like how my husband uses his phone at dinner?!?) You know what I mean. “Do as I say, not as I do” becomes a weaker argument the older kids get.
If you don’t want to be the gate-keeper for the technology use in your home, certain routers allow internet access and keeps track of kid’s online use. When their allotted time runs out, the device isn’t allowed on the wi-fi at home anymore. This takes you out of the debate completely. There’s even apps you can purchase that allow you to remotely track online use and allow access to the internet. The technology to keep track of kid’s online use is changing rapidly due to concerned parents. With a little searching, a family can find tools that fit their needs.
Basically, make rules and create boundaries, either imaginary or physical, to limit technology. Get creative and do what works for your family. Expect your kids not to like it or debate you about it (kids are supposed to do this) and then still stick with the rules you make.
A photo of a basket full of cell phones causes much discussion in my classes. A sign taped to the side of the basket reads “Be with the friends who are HERE.” I ask if parents would use something like this in their home. Some would, others say “No WAY!” What do you think?
Thank you for the opportunity to share this content here, Keri Lyn! Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with and keep being awesome, connected parents!
Have a topic you want to know more about? Let me know! I’ll write about it. And if I don’t have an answer for you, I’ll find one. (Promise!) We’re all in this parenting arena together. Thanks for reading and I look forward to connecting with you again soon! ~ Eileen
Connect with Eileen
If you are looking to learn more about and to stay up to date on the latest social media happenings and trends, especially where kids are concerned, then I highly encourage you to follow Eileen in social media!