Parenting the Smartphone Generation

John M. Chase Photography


Speaker:  Jonathan McKee

Panelist:  Jonathan McKee, Kim Miller, Kevin Simonds, Jackie Perry, Chris Pautrat,
                and Chimene Shipley Dupler

Topic:  Engaging our Children in Today's Technology Driven Culture

   Jonathan McKee   The Source for Parents The Source for Youth Ministries

Jonathan McKee
The Source for Parents
The Source for Youth Ministries

   Kimberly Miller, M.Ed.   Dean of Curriculum & Instruction Trinity Christian School

Kimberly Miller, M.Ed.
Dean of Curriculum & Instruction
Trinity Christian School

   Kevin Simonds   Health & PE Department Chair Fairfax County Public Schools

Kevin Simonds
Health & PE Department Chair
Fairfax County Public Schools

   Jackie E. Perry,    MS,LPCS, NCC   Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor   

Jackie E. Perry, 
MS,LPCS, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor

 

   Chris Pautrat   Youth Pastor New Song Church

Chris Pautrat
Youth Pastor
New Song Church

   Chimene Shipley Dupler   President/CEO Passion4Moms

Chimene Shipley Dupler
President/CEO
Passion4Moms


Q & A for our Panelist
Parenting the Smartphone Generation Seminar

What age do you recommend receiving a phone?  What age do you recommend allowing children on social media? 

With all the distractions that today’s mobile devices offer, I think it’s best to wait until age 12 or 13 to give our kids their first device. After all, they can’t even be on the big social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) until age 13 (thanks to COPPA). Here’s an article I wrote linking research to support this: ARE SMARTPHONES & SOCIAL MEDIA TOO DANGEROUS FOR MY KIDS? http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=130

I am a mom of an 11 yr old girl. Do you have recommendations for her first phone or specific smartphones or specific apps that allow us to limit the types of websites she would have access to? My concern is even on her Kindle I don't allow her to access Amazon due to concern on material shown.

Good question. First, I’ve seen countless software available to “block” porn and “spy” on kids… and personally I didn’t use those. I just used the “enable restrictions” feature on my kid’s iPhones and made it so they required a password to download apps, etc. That way if my kid came to me and asked, “Can I have Instagram, then I could have a conversation with them about it rather than just relying on some spy app to block it. Conversations and “walking with” our kids through this process is by far better than ANY software (I talk about this in great detail in my IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER book. https://www.amazon.com/If-Had-Parenting-Do-Over-Changes/dp/1683220676)

Here’s an article about some of the settings you might want to consider for Instagram, as well as some of the important guidelines you might want to discuss with your kid: KEEPING INSTAGRAM SAFE: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=97 

Here’s an article about preventing porn: THREE PARENTING PRACTICES PREVENTING THE PERMEATION OF PORN: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=120

Here’s an article about porn blocks and filters: 2 UNDENIABLE FACTS ABOUT PARENTAL CONTROLS AND PORN BLOCKS: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=135

Is there a way to modify/filter the Story Periodicals on SnapChat?

Not that I know of. I wish there was. 

My husband and I were having a conversation about music last week.  We were comparing our music growing up compared to today's. How do you think it compares? Pour some sugar on me vs. cardi B of today. Is it worse?

Yeah… it’s absolutely worse, not so much in quality, but quantity. Back when “Pour some sugar on me” was popular, groups like 2 Live Cru and NWA had some of the most vile filth to this day… but it wasn’t mainstream. By the 90’s we started to see Snoop Dog and some other pretty raunchy “artists” hit the Hot 100 charts (Snoop had a song go to No. 8)… but even then, it wasn’t the entire charts. Now the charts are much more potent with sensuality and bad language.

Take a peek at this article I just wrote about the recent charts and what experts are saying about the effects of this music: DOES SEXY MUSIC REALLY AFFECT ME? http://www.jonathanmckeewrites.com/archive/2017/08/30/does-sexy-music-really-affect-me.aspx

The other difference is the AMOUNT of time people are listening to music because of the ACCESS to it. When you and I used to listen to Def Leppard, we had to buy the tape or CD. The most mobile we got was a Walkman. Now young people have FREE access to everything, from the song on Spotify to the music video on YouTube just a click away on their device. And Mom and Dad don’t have to buy that “explicit” CD… so kids have access to a lot more of the “unedited” versions.

Here’s an article just today from Nielsen about the increase of time listening to music each week because of the ease of access: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/time-with-tunes-how-technology-is-driving-music-consumption.html

How do you overcome the tendency of teens to want to roll eyes and minimize information exchanged when you are trying to talk to them?

Great question, and you’re not alone. So many parents feel this struggle. 

First, minimize “monologue” and maximize “dialogue.” Listen more than lecturing. That means using questions. But how we ask questions is also important. I talk more about that in this article, WHICH LISTENER ARE YOU? http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=102

But even then we can get the eye roll if we’re trying to “teach” them something or pass on an important value. That’s why it’s good to consider leading our kids toward discovery instead of just lecturing. More on this here: MOVING FROM YOU SHOULD TO SHOULD YOU? http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=10

But sometime it’s just  hard to get our teenagers talking. In my book GET YOUR TEENAGER TALKING I give 5 tips to provoking conversation… like not asking the same question every day, “How was your day?” Here’s an article about this: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=94

More on this: 3 ESSENTIALS TO TALKING WITH TODAY’S TEENS: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=105

And finally… teens will just be teens. Don’t take it personal. Sometimes you need to just LET IT GO (something I devoted an entire chapter to in my book IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER https://www.amazon.com/If-Had-Parenting-Do-Over-Changes/dp/1683220676

How do you control the use of video chatting/sexting?

That’s a broad question… maybe even two questions.

First… I think realistic guardrails, like no phones/computer in the bedrooms really help with this. But also teaching them many of the precautions we need to take when chatting with others- principles like “never chat with someone you haven’t met face to face,” “never post your location” etc. I talk a little about some of these risks in my recent article IS SNAPCHAT SAFE? http://www.jonathanmckeewrites.com/archive/2017/09/26/is-snapchat-and-snapmaps-safe.aspx

Sexting is also a huge concern today. Almost every school experiences it; and even if your kids aren’t doing it, many of their friends are. It’s something we need to dialogue with our kids about- in fact I devoted an entire chapter to it in my new book THE TEENS GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND MOBILE DEVICES, as well as a chapter about posting pics, and a chapter about porn: https://www.amazon.com/Teens-Social-Media%C2%85-Mobile-Devices/dp/1683223195

What advice would you offer to a teacher who notices students listening to either music videos (like those shown) or those equally destructive? Do you recommend engaging with the parents, students, or both?

I think teachers, coaches and youth workers should talk with the students about this stuff, and bring parents into the picture if you see them doing something that is harming themselves or others. I know that’s vague (because these music videos are probably harmful), but in a world where most parents simply don’t care about this kind of content, telling a mom that their daughter is listening to Nicki Minaj probably isn’t even worth it. In fact, many parents might get on the defensive about it- thinking you’re judging them or blaming them for being a bad parent.

I’m a HUGE advocate of communication with parents, but more for encouragement than being a narc. I’d save “telling” on a kid for something that really hurts them or others.

Our children are in college now. What are some approaches we can/should be taking now? Is it too late?

All three of my kids are college age and out of the house… and this is far from over.

In my book IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER I talk about BONDING and BOUNDARIES and the importance of both. When our kids leave, our main connection with them will be BONDING, and we should really focus on that. After all, BONDING conversation are where values are passed on. Trying to “ground” a 22 year-old isn’t typically very effective. But conversations can be life changing. So look for opportunities to connect, eat, laugh and talk. Ask lots of questions with genuine interest and avoid lecturing. If you love them, they’ll ask YOU questions and advice.

Can people other than friends on SnapChat or Instagram see post?

Nope. Only friends.

What is the downside of waiting until 9th/10th grade to give kids access to a smartphone or data plan? What are the compelling reasons to do it before then?

The only downside is that if your kids are surrounded by friends who all have devices, they might whine and complain that they are the ONLY kid without a device. But this doesn’t mean give in. Funny… I know lots of parents who actually give their kids a device before they even ask. We don’t need to feel the pressure to give a device when most experts are recommending wait. See point number 2 in this article: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=130

I'm concerned about how to regulate screen time with a high functioning autistic child when their social skills are so limited and their peers are so unwilling to engage them, what do I do?

My sister in law works with autistic kids and constantly shares with me how she provides freedoms to let them express themselves, but at the same time provides boundaries of acceptable/unacceptable behaviors. In other words, she doesn’t make kids in her classroom sit in a chair… some stand and fidget. But hitting another kid is unacceptable. We can do the same with boundaries in our house, and we don’t want to turn our kids loose on social media or 10 hours of video games per day just because they have a learning disability. 

I recommend talking with SEVERAL counselors who are trained at working with autistic kids and see what they recommend. Look for the common truth in all their advice.

Also consider some of the research we’re seeing about kids with low social skills now AVOIDING social because of technology… not a good thing. More on that here: 3 INGREDIENTS CATALYZING THE SPIKE IN TEEN DEPRESSION: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=148

What is the easiest way to monitor a child's online activity for parents who aren't tech savvy? Specific app or software?  Do you recommend any phone/internet filters?

Good question. First, I’ve seen countless software available to “block” porn and “spy” on kids… and personally I didn’t use those. I just used the “enable restrictions” feature on my kid’s iPhones and made it so they required a password to download apps, etc. That way if my kid came to me and asked, “Can I have Instagram, then I could have a conversation with them about it rather than just relying on some spy app to block it. Conversations and “walking with” our kids through this process is by far better than ANY software (I talk about this in great detail in my IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER book. https://www.amazon.com/If-Had-Parenting-Do-Over-Changes/dp/1683220676)

Here’s an article about some of the settings you might want to consider for Instagram, as well as some of the important guidelines you might want to discuss with your kid: KEEPING INSTAGRAM SAFE: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=97 

Here’s an article about preventing porn: THREE PARENTING PRACTICES PREVENTING THE PERMEATION OF PORN: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=120

Here’s an article about porn blocks and filters: 2 UNDENIABLE FACTS ABOUT PARENTAL CONTROLS AND PORN BLOCKS: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=135

My daughter joined social media google plus community-RolePlay. What are your thoughts about RolePlay?

I’m not familiar with it.

Please talk about the dangers of musically. Parents are not aware of how much kids are exposed to pornographic videos on this app. Even if they select their friends and who can see their videos, the video search feature is not filtered and they can access anything through that search feature.

Musical.ly is a popular app where kids can create and share music videos to their friends/followers. So like most social media sites, they need to be careful WHO they allow as friends (a good rule of thumb is no one they haven’t met face to face) and WHAT they are posting (are they posting their location, are they posting anything inappropriate). As for inappropriate… anyone who has been to one of my parenting workshops has gleaned a taste of what today’s music videos look like… these are many of the videos that are passed around. So young kids are exposed to pretty raunchy and sexualized content.

It’s sad, because it allows kids to be creative… but can expose them to some raunchy content.

Age is also a concern. In their privacy policy  hey aren’t as clear about age… just that they won’t “keep” or “collect” information from anyone under 13. It never asks if you are 13 when you sign up, so many young kids have this. 

Here’s an article sharing concerns: https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/what-parents-need-know-about-musically/

Common Sense media goes into some detail about what parents can expect in their review of the app: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/musically-your-video-social-network

When your kids push you away and go silent--how do you reconnect and bond and know that they are okay or know what's going on in their world?

This all starts with NOTICING our kids and making time to connect on their level.

Chris nailed this concept in our panel at the Passion4Moms conference when he shared his story about his son who loved hunting. Chris could have done what many parents do and just shrugged his shoulders. But he didn’t- instead he took an interest in “elk skinning” and took his son to the big outdoorsman store… and that opened his son up.

Many parents don’t take the TIME to NOTICE and enter their kids world.

What is it that your kids LOVE to talk with their friends about? Where do they spend their time? I spend an entire chapter talking about “NOTICING” our kids in my book IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER. https://www.amazon.com/If-Had-Parenting-Do-Over-Changes/dp/1683220676  The key is noticing THEIR interests, and entering their world.

Is there a way to receive your child's text directly to your phone or laptop? Can kid's screens/apps activity be displayed on a parent's screen?

There are apps that can do this, but I don’t recommend them. I recommend just setting the parental restrictions on the phones appropriately for their age, then having conversations about content. See my answers and links to question number 2.

For kids who want to be "set apart" are there suggestions or resources regarding these types of things? For ex: 14 yr daughter recently had a teammate tell her she was "Pan". Our daughter came to us and asked what the best way to respond to that typed of confession? As a believer, she wants to be a safe/non-judgemental place. She asked said girl if her parents knew and thanks for sharing, but this is a heavy burden to carry.

This is so common, and I think the answer we need to keep pointing to is Jesus himself, because Jesus showed such compassion and love for sinners, but yet didn’t bend on morality. We need to continue to share stories of Jesus with our kids where Jesus showed compassion to the lost (John 4- woman at the well, John 8- woman caught in adultery, Luke 19- Zacheaus, etc.) and ask our kids questions about how we can respond like that when we meet the lost.

At the same time it’s okay to dialogue with students about the realities of much of what the world says is OKAY, but isn’t actually healthy. Here’s a recent blog I wrote about dialoguing about gender identity with some good discussion material to talk about: http://www.jonathanmckeewrites.com/archive/2016/05/12/truth-gender-identity.aspx

My book SEX MATTERS also helps paint a big picture of God’s design for sex and intimacy and some of the consequences we can face when we step outside of that: https://www.amazon.com/Sex-Matters-Jonathan-McKee/dp/0764222139

Do you think there will be a new "norm" of culture for our kids when they are adults because of the seismic change of the smartphone?

This is all pure speculation, but I think we are seeing changes in our culture in the way we communicate with each other (poorer), the amount of entertainment media we’re absorbing (more each year) and a change in morality as we slowly are adopting the morality of our entertainment we love.

In our panel at the Passion4Moms event Coach Kevin mentioned Simon Sinek talking about some of these changes in communication with each other. Here’s a powerful interview with him I highlighted in my blog a while back: http://www.jonathanmckeewrites.com/archive/2017/01/03/drawbacks-constant-connectivity.aspx

Jonathan mentioned some additional authors/resources beyond his books, can you please share those resources?

Yes, in addition to my own books- my Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-McKee/e/B001IQWE9U   … here are a few I mentioned:

CURT STEINHORST and I teamed up for this book to leaders in the workforce helping today’s worker accomplish focused work in a world overflowing with distractions: CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? https://www.amazon.com/Can-Have-Your-Attention-Constantly/dp/111939046X

SHERRY TURKLE- New York Times best selling author talks about how tech is killing relationships: RECLAIMING CONVERSATION:  https://www.amazon.com/Reclaiming-Conversation-Power-Talk-Digital/dp/0143109790

And the other source I kept quoting was COMMON SENSE MEDIA, a free online source for parents: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

What suggestions do you have about young people creating their online identity? For ex: professionals are told to have LinkedIn with followers because we have to network. As adults, we have a social media presence or we are considered odd. How do we guide them in understanding their online identity

I think here’s a perfect opportunity to teach our kids truth and see how that truth seeps into the other areas of their lives like “online identity.” In other words, the more we teach our kids who they are “in Christ” (II Cor 5:17) and their mission of “we don’t preach ourselves, we preach Christ the Lord” (II Cor 4:5), the more they’ll know how to live this out in every area of their lives, including online.

I spend quite a few chapters talking about this, like the Chapter 8: Take more "Selflessies” and Chapter 9: Like Me in my new TEEN’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND MOBILE DEVICES: https://www.amazon.com/Teens-Guide-Social-Mobile-Devices/dp/1683223195

How do you defend "right" to check text with the argument that you are invading their privacy?

I blogged about this very subject a few year’s back because it was a huge issue with my daughter: http://www.jonathanmckeewrites.com/archive/2012/01/23/parents-monitoring-texting.aspx  … but as you’ll notice, I didn’t post any answers in the blog, I just left it open for comments (quite a discussion in that comment section).

Bottom line: I think we need to consider THE SEGUE

THE SEGUE is a principle I spend an entire chapter on in my book IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER. It’s the principle of starting strict and then lightening up as our kids grow towards adulthood. In fact, I even recommend letting your kids have NO RULES their senior year. So my 12-year-old is going to have to get used to me looking at her texts. But my 17-year-old won’t. Conversation is a must at both ages, but it’s silly to squeeze tight boundaries on a kid who is going to be leaving the house in 5 months. This is where our conversations with them have much more impact that rules.

How do we handle disturbing behavior by our kid's friends? Do we stay out of it? Or do we engage the school or parents?

My two cents is that you have plenty of conversations with your own kids about who they hang out with- even stepping in and saying, “Sorry, you’re not going to Jackson’s house” if need be. Again, more boundaries when young… less when older. But I wouldn’t contact other parents unless their kids were hurting themselves or others. I would talk with the kid directly.

Do you have advice for a single mother with little resources and no father figure? I have 2 teenage boys who I feel like I can't control.

My advice to you would be the same that I’ve been giving every parent- a balance of bonding and boundaries. But in addition, I would really seek out environments that provide good male role models- churches, youth groups, sports teams, schools with good male teachers. Those male influences can have an amazing impact in their lives. Embrace that.

Is there any reason to keep some discussions with your kids about apps, social media failures, etc private from your spouse?

Nope. Parents should be on the same page.

How do you engage with your child when their favorite apps or games bore you? (ex: Minecraft)

When you’re kids are gone out of the house you’ll wish you would have played some of those boring games with them. Love is full of sacrifices.

How do you balance freedom for a 16 yr old and being an authoritative adult who makes decision. I know she is a 1 1/2 yr from leaving home with college and no supervision. How do you know how much freedom is too much?

There is no hard and fast rule for exactly the right rules for a certain age. Each kid is different. Just keep your eyes on the calendar and ask, “Am I preparing her for that day when she leaves for college?” Instead of telling her what to do, ask her, “What should you do?” http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=103

The desire for money, power, fame, influence is a huge driver in all of this. But everything has tradeoffs. Can you talk about how to have this discussion without sounding like a killjoy?

Take them through Jesus teaching in Matthew Chapter 5, especially the Be-Attitudes. This teaching counters the worldly teaching of money, fame and power. Limit lecturing, just read and then ask, “What does Jesus mean by this?” Then ask, “What does that look like today?” “What are some messages that seem to counter this teaching today?” “Who is right?"

Can you talk about the TBH (to be honest) free social networking app that lets friends anonymously answer questions about one another. TBH is a simple social networking app that lets you answer fun, whimsical questions about your friends and collect gems (trophies) every time your friends select your name in answer to a question. Once you give access to your phone's contact list and location, you can select the high school or college you attend. Since there's no age verification, adults can join or kids can say they attend a school they don't. Ultimately, the app draws from your phone's contact list first and then offers other app users from the school second. 

If the word “anonymous” is ever in the description in an app… it’s not good. Anonymity always conveys “lack of responsibility” or “no accountability.” I spend an entire chapter talking about this in my TEEN’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND MOBILE DEVICES: https://www.amazon.com/Teens-Guide-Social-Mobile-Devices/dp/1683223195

Sexting or sending inappropriate pictures is obviously popular among teens. What can be done about creating boundaries when our kids are not with us (ie: school, sports, church, etc). How can we protect our kids from being exposed to things they have not asked to be a part of, but are exposed to via group chats or unsolicited text with inappropriate content?

The sad news is, we can’t protect them from everything. We can provide good boundaries, but then all we can do is teach them truth so they learn to recognize the lies.

When it comes to sexting, a friend might show them an image someday. We can prepare them for this by talking about sexting and pornography in general. The more they know the truth about these distractions, the more equipped they’ll be to make the right decision when they encounter it. That’s why I spent an entire chapter talking about sexting AND a chapter about pornography in my TEEN’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND MOBILE DEVICES: https://www.amazon.com/Teens-Guide-Social-Mobile-Devices/dp/1683223195