The Hidden Truth
Your kids are smart. Apps can be hidden behind apps. For example, the camera icon could really be TikTok when you click on it. Kids can make free Gmail accounts and have multiple accounts. Your kids are being targeted with inappropriate material and topics, if you are not checking you will never know. Even if think they are ready at 10, they are not. We found out the hard way. You can possibly save your child's life.
Listen, Your kids do not need privacy, they need a concerned parent who will take the time to protect them.
Why Our Kids Aren't Ready for the Smartphone
I want to chat about something that’s been on my mind a lot over the past few years mostly steering from personal experience and then learning about other parents' experiences. The world of smartphone apps and how they're affecting our kids. It's a jungle out there in the app world, and I know firsthand that our children's brains just aren't ready for it.
The App Avalanche: What Are Our Kids Diving Into?
The sheer number of apps available to kids today is staggering. It's a free-for-all out there and even when your kids don't go looking for it, the not-so-good will find them. And it's not just games; there are social media platforms, chat apps, and all sorts of interactive content. The problem? A lot of these apps expose our kids to stuff they're just not ready to handle.
Social Media: Too Much, Too Soon
Social media platforms can be a minefield for young minds. These apps often push ideals of perfection, self-harm, porn, unrealistic ideals, and unhealthy lifestyles, and can lead to serious issues. Cyberbullying and inappropriate content is everywhere. As a parent, it's scary to think about the kind of social pressures and risky behaviors kids might be exposed to.
Games, Videos, and Ads: A Tricky Combo
Even seemingly innocent games can be problematic. Many are loaded with ads that are not always age-appropriate. Some games also promote in-app purchases, leading kids to make financial decisions they're not mature enough to handle.
Chat Apps and Stranger Danger
Chat apps can be particularly concerning. They open the door for kids to interact with strangers, which is a huge red flag. The risk of grooming or exposure to harmful conversations is real and frightening.
The Learning Curve
Kids' brains are still developing, and now because of instant gratification mainly because kids don't have to search for answers in more than one place and can find anything they need or want at their fingertips the average mind is not fully developed till about the age of 26. They're even more than ever not equipped to navigate the complexities of the online world. They might struggle to distinguish between ads and content, or they might not understand the permanence of the digital footprint they're creating.
Setting Boundaries and Guiding Our Kids
So, what's a parent to do?
Here are a few suggestions:
Do not give your children a smartphone before about the age of 14, ( I stand by this) if you must they should not be able to download apps or "surf" and even at 14, their brains aren't ready socially or emotionally for what they are about to see. You must be checking their phones. They must be checked by you. Yes, by you.
Set rules and boundaries and make deals. Yes, make deals with them.
Phones need to be plugged in in one "public" location in an open space in your home every night by a reasonable time. I would say 10 PM the latest.
Limit Exposure: Keep a close eye on what apps your kids are using. If an app seems inappropriate, Say No
Let them know you will be checking the phones randomly. Talk to your kids about the risks. Explain why certain apps are off-limits and discuss the importance of online safety. I promise they will not all listen so check, check, check.
Lots more on this topic, keep your eye out.
Navigating the Digital World Together
It's a balancing act, trying to prepare our kids for the digital future while protecting them from its pitfalls. By being aware and involved in their digital lives, we can help guide them through safely.
I am not here to scare you but if that is what it takes it should scare you. What I have seen I will continue to chat about. Stay posted.