Jonathan McKee, president of The Source for Youth Ministry, offers these tips for avoiding a “thumb war” with texting teens:
- Teach teenagers proper stewardship of their cell phones. Owning a phone is a privilege, not a promise. But parents can do a lot to ensure that kids use phones appropriately. Model responsible use on the home front to teach proper device management.
- Monitor kids’ cell phone use. Many parents monitor computer usage but neglect to check in on their kids’ smartphones, which have web access. Be upfront about your checking, telling kids what you plan to do and why. And don’t overreact if you find ￼something you don’t like. That will only destroy the trust you’re trying to build and maintain.
- Declare phone-free zones. This is like a “no-fly zone” for iPhones. It will vary from family to family, but a good place to start is during meals, throughout homework sessions, and in the bedroom after a certain time. We don’t need to let trivial text messages interrupt truly important moments. After you come to a mutual agreement, stick to it— parents included!
- Encourage teenagers to react to misuse quickly and responsibly. Be proactive in helping kids deal with abusive or inappropriate texts. Establish a game plan ASAP so they know what to do before anything happens.
Questions for Parents to Consider
- How has technology affected your communication preferences and, in turn, your relationships?
- What type of “technology fast” might benefit you and your kids?
- How can you all strive to make your communications more personal?