What to Do When… Your child’s friends have greater access online than they do

What to Do When… Your child’s friends have greater access online than they do

Particularly in their elementary school and early teen years, children’s access to devices, applications, and media vary widely. Parents have a significant opportunity in the pre-adolescent years to make decisions for their children and to do so in ways that resonate with the family’s structure, culture, and other values and needs.

Understand why it matters to your child.

  • You can ask what their friends can do that they can’t, learn more about how their friends use their online access, and ask why they want this access. Validate that these seem like important concerns and you can see how it might be a challenge for your child.

Explain your reasoning.

  • “I’m not comfortable with you having a cell phone of your own until you are old enough to get a job to help pay for it.”
  • “Violent video games can make people feel stressed and angry. I want to make sure that we’ve had time to talk about and to practice strategies to calm down before you start to play those games.”
  • “Social media offers more access to strangers than I think you’re ready for. I want to see that you can manage the challenges of in-person relationships first before we introduce online relationships. Let’s talk about how I can help you to get there.”

Offer solutions.

  • “What if we give your best friends my phone number so they can text you here? That way they can reach you but we can do the texting together for a while.”
  • “Let’s set up a social media account for you and me. We can use it together to connect with your friends and that way you can learn some of the skills you’ll need to use it on your own later.”