When is the Right Time to Let Your Kids Use Tech?

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Your average twelve-year-old doesn’t have the self-control and maturity to use technology safely and wisely.
Your average twelve-year-old doesn’t have the self-control and maturity to use technology safely and wisely.

By Vicky Gardner

Some parenting experts urge parents to “trust” their children when it comes to using smartphones and other technology. Here’s why that advice is, frankly, crazy.

When do you trust them to drive your car?

Would you trust your six-year-old to drive? What about your ten-year-old? Your twelve-year-old? No way! When it comes to driving, we recognise that the child needs to earn our trust, and we don’t give them more than they can handle. Your average ten-year-old doesn’t have legs long enough to reach the brake pedal.

Likewise, your average twelve-year-old doesn’t have the self-control and maturity to use technology safely and wisely. However, we also don’t lock up our kids and keep them away from cars for life. That’s also not responsible parenting! When our children are teens, OF COURSE we will start teaching them how to drive, expecting that they will be competent and safe drivers when they are adults. In the same way, we have come to recognise that we need to train our children in their teen years to use technology safely and competently because we want them to be adults who can use technology wisely and effectively.

Just as driving a car requires your child to take on the responsibility for your life and the lives of others, so accessing technology gives your child the ability to potentially damage relationships, your and others’ reputations, and their own souls. So our duty as parents is not to keep our kids away from ever using technology any more than it’s our job to keep them from ever driving cars! Our job as parents is to introduce technology to them when they are ready and to train them in the safe, moderate, and productive use of it.

And just as our teens need to prove to us and to the state that they are competent and reliable drivers before they get a license, our teens need to earn our trust when using technology. Our job is to train them and to show them the way to earn your trust. Trust must be earned. Do NOT trust your children with tech until they have proven themselves trustworthy. Otherwise, it’s not real trust. It’s good for kids to earn your trust and to prove themselves, just as proving to the state that they are good drivers is good for them!

To begin with, we need to build our own virtue muscles. If you have a problem with too much time on social media or with viewing inappropriate content, start building up your own muscles so that you can train your own child in virtue-building.

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Source: The Messy Family Project