Will parental control apps help or hinder communication with your teen?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show

Photo: jazbeck via Flickr

Photo: jazbeck via Flickr

Topic: What lessons are parental controls teaching your teen? James 1:5 tells us that God grants wisdom generously and without finding fault to those who lack it and seek it. We want our children to be thinking correctly in all circumstances where they have been granted the freedoms of using devices.

When kids start using their devices and connecting in their cyber social realms, parents can feel a huge disconnect especially when their children ignore their texts and calls. A frustrated mom came up with an app for that called, “Ignore  no more!” The temptation with apps that “take control” from the child is to feel like somehow we as parents have the power to make our children behave the way we expect them to. All of these apps have limited impact and if not used properly, can teach our kids the wrong lessons. For example a recent study indicated that over 50% of teens using mobile devices from behind the wheel were communicating with a parent. So is it more important that a teen driver respond to mom and dad right away, or focus on driving safely?

Related: What do parental control apps teach your teen?

Parental control apps have limited value, and must always be used in context of the bigger lesson about making good decisions and establishing good habits. If your child is using her device and ignoring you, and you choose to use Ignore Me No More, create a more robust context about making good choices.

1. Explain to your child that her decision to ignore your calls and texts has created a problem, and now you are involving her to come up with a solution.
2. Remind your child that access and use of the device is a privilege, not a right. And such privileges are associated with responsible behavior. Ignoring mom and dad is not responsible behavior.
3. Inform your child that you are installing the Ignore Me No More app, or any other parental control app on the device so she can rebuild trust with you, and that any attempts to disable it will result in loss of the device for X period of time.
4. Explain that you expect your child to make good decisions and always put safety first and ask your child to come up with some examples when mom or dad’s text might have to wait.

Most importantly, assure your child that your expectation is that over time this app will no longer be necessary as she proves herself to be a responsible user (and hopefully you have cyber safe house rules to refer to in setting expectations about being responsible). When you communicate the implementation of parental controls as empowering your child to learn self discipline which is essential to have control over your own life, not about you exercising control over your child, it is possible to inspire open communication about what is happening on and off line. A caring corrective heart, not a condemning frustrated heart, is the authenticity children need to feel safe to be honest about how their cyber social experiences are informing them.  And then you can impart your wisdom.


Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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Email: Jullien@surewest.net

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM  started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.


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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.