We all know that texting is dangerous (especially when driving). And we have been told that texting (and “sexting”) can be very dangerous for tweens and teens. In fact, we probably have been bombarded by stats and case studies and examples to the point of where we, as parents, all simply start ignoring or tuning it all out. We really shouldn’t, you know, because so much communication happens between tweens and teens via smart phones now. And as good parents, you really should be involved, or at least “have a clue” as to what is going on in your child’s digital life. And while there are many types of apps and services now available for parents to block access to certain contacts, prevent texting at certain times and simply see smart phone activity, I believe that being overly restrictive can actually be counter-productive when it comes to the digital life of kids. But these software tools and services ARE beneficial. Here’s why.
Let me preface everything by saying whatever you choose to do regarding your child’s smartphone and online activities is your prerogative. It depends on you as a person, your values and your beliefs. It also depends on your child, their personality, and their strengths or weaknesses. If blocking apps, numbers or activities works for you, then that is the strategy you should use. All of the recommendations in this article are my thoughts and opinions and what works for me, my wife and my family, might not work for yours or even be appropriate. But I do have one overall recommendation, having a dialog with your child or children about online safety and messaging is a good place to start. A dialog is 2-way and you need to listen as part of the process. Otherwise it becomes a lecture and trust me, kids tune out lectures completely. Save your words if you are going to do that.