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Rules for preteens and technology (phone, computer, TV etc.)

(5 Posts)
DesperateD4d Wed 21-Oct-15 11:24:04

Hi all,

I am just curious to know how you are navigating the choppy waters of technology with your Preteen. We have the standard complaint that 'All my friends are allowed to watch TV and go on their computer whenever they want to!'

We have a fairly limited media/tech diet. Our DD has a phone, DS and computer but we only really allow their use in pretty short bursts and only once in a while. We don't really watch TV at all during the week, but we have movie night on Fridays. I guess we're fairly limiting, certainly compared to some. How are you managing this stuff? Hard, innit?

standclear Wed 21-Oct-15 12:10:14

It is really, really hard. A vital part of being a teen is "not being left out of the group" so you don't want to make them in to social pariahs, on the other hand, imo, their access to technology must be closely monitored and curtailed. It's getting the balance right that is the difficult thing.

To provide a bit of context: my dd is 12 yrs and has just started secondary school (they start a year later than the UK where we live). She has a fairly intensive school day + ballet classes so we do allow her access to her Ipod + laptop (and occasionally an old mobile phone) during the week with strict rules attached. (She does 4 hrs of sport at school per week plus 4 hrs of ballet per week too so I know she is getting plenty of exercise).

She (and a friend) have already experienced one incidence of mild but nonetheless unpleasant cyber-bullying from girls one class above her (I know these girls individually and their parents and they are generally lovely. Get them together on-line in a group though and the dynamic changes dramatically.)

We have also had one scare with dd when we discovered she was talking to a stranger on line through the Star Stable game (I was popping in and out of the room she was in at the time and thought she was talking to a school friend shock). We were horrified when we discovered the truth as it flouted all of our rules and dd, despite warnings, was completely unaware of the danger she had put herself in. She said "but I do know x because I have been playing SS on-line with her for two years" confused It was all sorted in the end, and she was indeed playing with a girl her own age (dh checked) but talk about scary.

Anyway ... given all the background above

- we have talked again extensively (in an age appropriate manner) to dd about stranger danger, pornography and the dangers of putting too much information about yourself on line, the nasties on Youtube etc. Some other v helpful mothers on Mumsnet pointed me in the direction of the NSPCC and CEOPS websites, both of which contain lots of helpful material on this subject.

- Friday nights aside, on school nights dd is allowed no screen time (including telly) before all homework complete (and completed well and checked by us)

- no more than 1 hr of screen time per school evening allowed (it is usually much less than this owing to hwk/other demands)

- no more than 2 hrs screen time per day allowed at weekends (excluding family telly watching but we don't watch that much)

- no more than 3 hrs screen time per day allowed during school holidays

- she is only allowed to surf the computer downstairs where we can check it from time to time

- we have parental controls on all devices (she mainly uses lap top and Ipod) and occasionally, an old mobile phone

- 30 min gap between end of day and bed-time (no screens)

- no technology of any sort allowed in the bedrooms ever

- only allowed to communicate on line with people she (and we!) know in person - this rule will have to evolve as she gets older obviously

- we have access to her e-mail account and all her passwords and she knows that we regularly check and read her messages both received and sent

- we monitor the music videos she is looking at

- no screens at dining table during family meals, or when (adult) friends and family are here and she needs to join in with the group

Sorry for essay. I sound like a harridan don't I? Sadly, I think these rules are necessary in this day and age. As we found out, it is the wild west out there atm.

Having stated all of the above, dd has just asked me is she can join Instagram "as all her friends are on it". Any advice would be appreciated as I don't really know anything about it!

Dotty342kids Thu 22-Oct-15 15:40:27

I have a 12.5yr old DS and limiting screen time is really, really hard. I am apparently much more strict than other parents and I think this is the case as whenever he visits or stays over at friends' houses the gaming time in particular seems unlimited!

Instagram wise - both my DS and my nearly 11yr old DD have had accounts for approx. 9mths. They are friends with me on there so I see anything they post. They also know that from time to time I check their mobile devices so can log in and see their "feeds" and direct messages. It all seems fairly harmless. Boys, in general tend to repost daft / sporty / silly pictures and girls, generally, pose and pout - nothing too inappropriate spotted yet!

With regards to general access. My DS has a mobile and tablet. They remain downstairs at all times. Sadly over the summer hols he managed to sneak his tablet into his room on a couple of evenings and a check of his browsing history revealed some browsing around for porn on youtube (and watching). We have safe settings on the internet at home, but if they go through a third party site, such as youtube, then you also need to set up restricted mode on that - although they can get around that very easily so nothing's foolproof. I also try to enforce a "no gadgets before 5pm" rule to stop them coming in from school and going straight on them. I do forget from time to time though smile
I find it's much harder restricting my son than my daughter. If he's not out of the house and engaged in sports / scouts / other things then he doesn't know what to do with himself. He doesn't have any hobbies as such, that he'd do at home. Very different to my DD who will read / create Lego things / do all sorts of stuff if she's not allowed screen time.

Even when he is allowed on his X box / tablet I restrict it to approx. 1-1.5hrs a day. If we're watching a film or TV on top of that as a family then I'm ok with that as it's a shared activity and at least allows for some family chat / interaction grin

Dancergirl Fri 23-Oct-15 10:45:15

standclear pretty much ALL teenage girls are on Instagram as far as I can see. It's not Facebook any more for that age, Instagram is the thing.

My two (14 and nearly 13) are both on it, I keep an eye what they post, it's pretty harmless really. Dd posts stuff about her dancing and other random stuff, they write birthday messages for their friends etc.

I said no to dd1 about Snapchat though - heard too many bad things about it.

standclear - how do you enforce your rules, it sounds like hard work? Who keeps track of the timings, you or dd?

standclear Sat 24-Oct-15 01:45:21

Dotty342kids and Dancergirl thank you very much for the advice and info about Instagram. Given eveyrthing you have both said, I think I will allow dd to join in the New Year.

Dotty good idea about joining Instagram yourself and then being able to keep an eye on what your dcs are posting and looking at. (And thanks for tip about needing extra restricted mode for You tube.)

Dancergirl thank you for the warning about Snapchat! Enforcing the rules is hard work (although not so hard with an only child I guesss) and a constant bone of contention but rules are very specific in order to avoid arguments (ie I just point to the time limits which we have written down (and agreed and signed!!) in the play room). DD and I both keep time. We have timers everywhere! I do get it wrong some of the time tbh, but it is more of a problem during the holidays than at any other time because her schedule during term time is so busy (she goes to hwk club twice a week as well as ballet).

Also v helpful is the fact that her (new secondary) school is on to all of these issues and are sending 'traffic light' questionnaires home with reports that dc and parents have to answer separately ie a typical question might be "do you go on any screens before starting your hwk?" (dd might colour in green to this, whereas (if we've had a bad week!!) we would colour in a red or amber.

I try and keep reminding myself that, overall, the Internet is a good thing in so many ways. The whole safety issue is a nightmare though to be honest!

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