Ugh…I remember so vividly the horrors of middle school. Bad haircuts, boy crushes, and zero self confidence. I didn’t sleep for days after being teased about my knock off designer jeans and my target brand patent leather tennis shoes with the black lace ties. Not to mention the fact that I never knew if I was “in” or “out” with the cool girls that day…Ugh…good times. Middle School used to be a right of passage that we all survived, and learned invaluable lessons along the treacherous path. But now… technology invades at the exact same time as hormones, fr-enemies, and awkward appearances, making more of a “quicksand” experience than a right of passage. The tricky thing that presents itself in middle school, is that many schools are issuing our kids Ipads and Chromebooks!!! Even though I chose not to allow my middle schooler to have a phone, the school now decides he needs an Ipad?? Grrrr.
Many families are struggling with how to set tech boundaries in their homes, now that schools are embracing the technology in the classrooms, as well as using it for homework assignments. (FYI…Most school districts have an opt-out option for these devices) Just as I did in my last post about elementary schoolers and cell phones, I’m going to dish on some of the conversations I’ve had with other moms considering this topic. The good news here is we are finally starting to have these conversations!! We are being transparent about the dangers that technology presents in our kids lives and we want to be educated! Just like any advice you get from your girlfriends, you can take what you like and leave the rest. However, I will say, the advice I have gathered here comes from mamas that I TRUST… Mamas that are not afraid to make their kids mad, or make them feel left out. Here’s what we chat about…
-Just because the school gives your kid an Ipad, DOES NOT mean you might as well get him a phone! That’s nonsense… don’t fall into the trap. Two different devices, 2 different purposes.
-SCHOOLWORK ONLY- Ipads for school are exactly that, for schoolwork. They can be used at the kitchen table and then plugged in (in my room) when they are finished. Monitoring this device is just as important as monitoring a cell phone. Look for apps that don’t belong…
-Take the Pledge! www.waituntil8th.org This is what we are doing with our boys, even though I was just messaging with a friend about how even 8th grade seems a bit to early. This is a great program though, with the concept of POWER IN NUMBERS! We can change this culture!
-Don’t Be Afraid To Change Your Mind! This is something I hear a lot… “I told Suzy that she could have a phone in sixth grade, not knowing what I was saying yes to!” Guess what? Suzy will get over it. We have the right as parents to change our minds in order to protect our kids. That’s our job. Sorry Suzy.
-What about communication? As I said in my previous post , there are other options! Basic flip phones are making a comeback for younger kids, and my personal favorite, the Gizmo Gadget (not sponsored). Although these are not trendy or popular, they get the job done. I’ve also noticed that there are plenty of other kids that have these “dorky baby watches” as well…so I guess not “everyone” has an Iphone.
Take it slow- Although we as parents always reserve the right to change our minds, it’s best to not have to. When you are ready to hand over the data plan, do it slowly! Start out with just texting, and move up from there. I know many moms, whom I respect VERY much, who did not allow any social media until the age of 16. And guess what? Their teenagers survived that long! CrAzY!
Educate Yourself…and Your Tween! Read, read, read…Keep up to date on the latest apps and monitoring software. Get on the same apps they have and figure it out! Know their passwords… in our house that’s a non-negotiable. And don’t be afraid to say “NO” to something that makes you uncomfortable!!
a Peek LOTS OF PEEKS!- Don’t be afraid to randomly ask them for their phone and have yourself a look…yes, mid-conversation!! I’m more concerned for their safe habits than their privacy.
I can’t even imagine what life as a middle-schooler is like in this day in age. I have chosen to homeschool our youngest 2 boys for this reason. They simply are not ready for all that middle school now holds. Not only do they have to worry about their socks not having the coveted “Nike Swoosh” for goodness sake, they have the pressures of nudes, (yes…that’s what they call them) cyber-bullying, and the unrealistic social media expectations to keep up with. Let’s do this…let’s agree to be parents…and help do for our kids what they can’t do for themselves. Just wait… they’ll thank you for it.