The Parenting Cipher Logo
May 24, 2024

How to Navigate Teen Technology

Navigating the Waters of Teenage Technology: A Mother’s Reflection

One of the most pivotal moments in a child's life is when they turn 13. The leap from childhood into teenage years brings about a host of changes, challenges, and opportunities. For my son Zavier, his 13th birthday marked not just another year, but a significant step towards being independent—especially in the realm of technology. When I received an email from Google, to inform me that parental controls would be turned off and he was going to be given control over his account, this was exciting for him and scary for me. Here’s how we navigated this milestone, and how you can too.

The Journey Begins: 13th Birthday and Google Account Control

I'll never forget the moment I received  gentle reminders from google that parental controls would stop soon on Zavier's account. Since Zavier never checks his emails I had to decide if I was going to tell him about his account change. Once I worked through my inner parental meltdown. I told Zavier  on his 13th birthday that he can turn parental controls off. At first he did not know what that meant. Once I explained to what that meant his eyes lit up with excitement, knowing he now had full control over his account. However, with great power comes great responsibility. We sat down together, and went through the process of setting up recovery options, choosing what data to share, and more importantly, talking about location settings. It wasn’t just a matter of toggling a switch; it was about understanding the implications. This experience wasn't just an eye-opener for Xavier, but for me as well. I realized the significance of being actively involved in these conversations.

Practical Steps for Supporting Your Teen’s Tech Journey

1. Set Up Recovery Options Together: Start by setting up necessary recovery options for your child's account, like phone numbers and backup email addresses. This ensures they can regain access if they ever get locked out. If your child is like mine then you may want to use your email and cellphone as a recovery message until they are using their email and text messages consistently.

2. Discuss Data Sharing: Sit down and discuss what data they feel comfortable sharing. This conversation is important for helping them understand privacy and the importance of safeguarding personal information. Let your child know that adult have challenges with securing their data too. This will help you child understand that you are not having this conversation because they are a child but because everyone needs to know how to protect their data.

3. Review Location Settings: Explain the pros and cons of enabling location tracking. We decided it was important for us as parents to have access to Zavier’s location for safety reasons. This decision must be mutual and respectful of your child’s growing independence. Because once your child has full control of their account they can turn off location tracking at anytime.

Responsible Teen Technology Use: Lessons from Experts

To further solidify our approach, I revisited the advice from three experts I previously had on the show: Dr. Jody Aman, Dr. Simone Alicia, and Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov. To make sure that the conversation we have covers all of the bases. Sometimes as parents we forget issues to cover with our child and they come up in response during situations with our child.

- Jody Aman emphasized the importance of trust and communication. Building a foundation of trust means having open conversations about internet safety, the potential for cyberbullying, and the responsibilities that come with digital freedom.

- Simone Alicia stressed the impact of technology on self-esteem. Monitoring not just screen time, but the content consumed is vital. We agreed on specific YouTube channels that were educational and age-appropriate, while setting clear boundaries around less suitable content.

- Elizabeth highlighted the significance of setting clear expectations and boundaries. Together, we outlined what responsible technology use looks like in our household, including screen time limits and the types of apps that are permissible.

Overcoming Parental Concerns: Addressing Online Safety

As a parent of a child with a sensory disorder, it’s only natural to have extra concerns. Zavier has faced challenges with getting lost in public places due to his sensory issues, which only amplified my worries about his online safety.

- Use Parental Controls Wisely: We leveraged parental controls not as a way to control but to ensure safety. Apps that monitor online activity can be less intrusive and more about fostering a secure online environment.

- Regular Check-ins: Set aside regular times to discuss Zavier’s online experiences. These sessions are less about surveillance and more about engaging with him to understand his digital world. This is a great time to build connection with your child and understand their ideas. Zavier and I discuss what he sees on Youtube which give me the ability to know what he's watching and to talk about it.

Empowering Your Teen: A Balancing Act of Freedom and Guidance

The ultimate goal is to find a balance between granting independence and providing guidance. Zavier's journey into teenage years is just beginning, and technology will play a crucial role in shaping his experiences.

- Encourage Responsibility: Giving Zavier responsibility over his tech use has been empowering. He understands the weight of his choices and the consequences they carry.

- Foster Independence: While he now has more control, it's essential that Zavier sees this control as a path to independence. Encouraging him to make choices, and sometimes mistakes, is the essence of learning.

Final Thoughts: Embracing Growth Together

This journey isn’t just about Zavier growing up; it’s also about my own development as a parent. Allowing him to take control of his technology has taught me the importance of trust, the need for open dialogue, and that occasional bumps along the road are part of the learning curve for both of us.

Listen to how I delve deeper into these reflections and share our musical choice of "Black Gold" by Flying Lotus from the Yasuke soundtrack—symbolizing Xavier’s journey—on The Parenting Cipher’s, episode 13, “13th Bday (1).” Embrace this passage with your child, and together, you’ll navigate the waters of teenage technology with wisdom and grace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Parenting Cipher Logo

Copyright © 2023 The Parenting Cipher – All Rights Reserved. Designed by Arising Co.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram