Ode to the Battle-Weary Cyber-Parent
“But Nobody Else’s Parents Do This!”
In my work as a school counsellor, I see lots of parents, and a common topic is monitoring technology at home. Very often, they feel overwhelmed by the constant challenges of policing technology, making tough calls about screentime, and vetting the content on apps, games, and websites. They are worn down by their teens’ resistance and badgering.
They report their kids’ complaints:
“You’re too strict!”
“Your rules are ridiculous!”
“Nobody else’s parents do this!”
“I’m the only one in my year level who doesn’t have _____.”
“But ALL my friends have (a smartphone, Xbox, CoD, Snapchat, etc.)
“I’m the ONLY ONE who isn’t allowed!”
If only I had a dollar for every parent who’s reported those words!
I assure these beleaguered parents that they are doing a great job and that they are not alone. Many others are fighting the good fight! I commiserate with these stalwarts of online safety and decency, acknowledging that the battle is decidedly trickier because of the parents who cave in and don’t monitor and acquiesce.
Three Cheers for the Battling Cyber-Parent
So, dear battle-weary parents, today’s post is for you. Hang in there! Keep monitoring. Continue vetting. Be vigilant! Be savvy! Be curious! You’re doing a great job, and your kids need you more than ever.
And if you worry you’re the toughest parent in the grade (because your child told you so in a spiteful, sulky tone), take heart. You’re probably not the toughest. And if you are, let me know and I’ll make you my Poster Parent, give you gold star and a pat on the back. You are definitely NOT the only parent who limits screentime, delays access to Facebook, or stalls smartphone ownership.
I assure you. Other parents are in the trenches with you.
Recent research in the US by Pew Research Center has found that the vast majority of parents on teens aged 13-17 are monitoring their teens’ online activity.
Here are some of the report’s findings:
48% of parents who know their teen’s email account password.
61% of parents say they’ve checked which websites their teen visits.
60% have checked their teen’s social media profiles.
56% have friended or followed their teen on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media platform.
48% have looked through their teen’s phone call records or text messages.
35% know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts.
95% of parents have talked with their teen about appropriate content for them to view online.
92% of parents have spoken with their teen about their online behaviour towards others.
Still think you’re alone? Still worried you’re too tough?
Keep up the good work, folks! You’re on track, and your kids are worth it!