Computers, Phones and Kids

The combination of computers, phones and kids raises difficult questions for many parents. Most parents are at least somewhat concerned about how their kids use of these devices and what kinds of stuff they purposely look at or accidentally stumble upon. There is no right nor perfect answer to these concerns.

As with so many issues we have raising our kids, a lot depends on our own values, our relationship with our kids and each child’s disposition.

I will not attempt an exhaustive review of all options here, but rather some broad approaches and a few specific options.

Broadly, I think parental approaches fall into three categories:

1) No technical restrictions on devices. Speak with your kids about proper use, maybe set time limits on devices. Discuss situations as they arise. Look at their browsing history periodically.

2) Do all of 1) but add some parental controls to devices. Here’s a good article on how to do so on iPhone and Android devices. But know, also, as pointed out here, iPhone is much better than Android for setting tight controls.

3) Do all of 1) and 2) plus add the ability to spy on your kids. For spying there are programs like NetNanny and others.

This is just my personal opinion but I am not a fan of spying. For very young children it may be fine but for pre-teens and teens this sets up an adversarial relationship, and I have seen with some of my clients’ kids, it creates a situation where the smart teens view it as a game to defeat, and they usually do.

Having raised two boys, I can speak from experience about dealing with these issues and would be happy to discuss with anyone who has concerns.


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