During a recent conversation with my mom, I lamented about how much time my oldest spends on TikTok. Other than take away the iPad, I don’t know what to do about it! My mom simply shook her head and said “I am so glad I’m not a parent of young kids in this era. I don’t know how you begin to navigate the tech world with kids.”
It’s tough, as a 21st Century parent, to figure out what to do and where to turn with tech questions big and small. How much time is too much time for kids to spend online? How old should a kiddo be before she can be on the internet unsupervised? When should you allow him to have a Facebook account? What about Instagram? Or TikTok? How do you teach balance and discipline as it comes to tech? Where do you start?
I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers. I have three girls, ages 11, 8 and 7, and they can all already navigate my iPhone better than I can. They are pros at Zoom. They have learned how to reset passwords if they forget one (approved passwords, of course!). They chat with their friends and do so many more things online that simply didn’t exist when I was their age. It’s wonderful, it really is. But, as a parent, it is also really overwhelming.
Where to go to get Advice about Kids and Tech
As my kids get older, I find myself having more and more questions about all things kids and tech. Through my research as both a writer and a parent, I’ve come across some great resources to help me (and other similarly-minded parents!) navigate the uncharted territory of raising kids in the 21st Century.
Common Sense Media. This is a fantastic spot to check out if you are wondering if something is age-appropriate for your kiddos. From movies to video games and websites to apps, this site gives a rating to all things media-related so you can make the call about whether or not a certain game or program is appropriate for your kiddo.
ConnectSafely.org. This site goes a bit more in-depth than Common Sense and includes articles on most of your kids’ most desired apps and games. I recently read an article here entitled “Parent’s Guide to Roblox,” and walked away from it feeling empowered with knowledge about this game my kids can’t get enough of.
Parenting in a Tech World (Facebook Group) I joined this group at a friend’s recommendation because I couldn’t decide whether I was okay with my 11 year old having a TikTok account or not. I love this group because it is just parents, like me, who are trying to figure out this crazy ride called Parenting in a Tech World. You can ask all sorts of questions related to kids and tech and get answers from real people in live time.
Parenting Teens and Tweens in a Digital Age (Facebook Group) This is another great Facebook group that was recently started for parents. There is great content in the group about about current tech trends and shares good resources for how to deal with issues that arise in gaming. It is a safe place where you can ask anything you want to be answered by other parents. This group will also be sharing Q & A's with experts in the space so I highly recommend joining as it takes off!
The Bark Blog I openly admit I’m not the most tech-savvy person on the block. I learn quickly, really I do! But the Bark Blog has been my bookmarked cheat sheet that has allowed me to rapidly install parental controls on any device that enters our home. The list is really comprehensive, and so far, we haven’t purchased a tech device whose parental control instructions aren’t listed on the page linked. Bookmark it now and thank me later!
Screen-free Parenting This website has a variety of resources for parents looking to get away from screens. There are ideas for kids’ activities that don’t involve screens, as well as various tech articles. There are also resources including books and media-control devices that allow you to manage your kids’ devices via apps or websites.
Parenting today certainly involves struggles and problems that the generations before us didn’t have to worry about. Although we love technology at my house (I’d rather not count the devices under my roof, to be honest!), we also respect the need for limits and restraints.