Too Young To Get Into Trouble With Their Phone? Is that Realistic?
In Part 1 of this blog, a few weeks ago, I talked about some of the issues involving phones and teens. In an ideal world, you would establish some ground rules before you have any problems. But we don’t always live in an ideal world.
So if you’re reading this and your child has a phone and you think they’re too young to be getting into trouble with it, just bear the following in mind:
In Triple P, we talk a lot about having realistic expectations, and that refers to a lot of things. In this case, you’ve got to remember that even though the child may be only 10 or 11, you’ve got to look ahead. So maybe you didn’t really talk about the rules much when they got that phone, because you were thinking they were too young to talk about sexting and porn and online predators and all the rest of it.
But when that child evolves and develops new ways to use the phone, or other kids expose them to stuff or there’s peer pressure, and also when your child develops mentally and physically into a hormonally-charged teenager, it’s not realistic to expect they can just handle all that on their own.
THEY STILL NEED YOU – IN FACT, MORE THAN EVER
A lot of parents think because teenagers have reached a certain age they don’t need supervision or family interaction. But there’s research to say that the more connected the teen is to the family, the less chance there is of them getting into other stuff and getting in trouble.
So, just backtracking a bit to that story I shared in Part 1 of this blog. A young woman sent a photo to a guy, and he shared it with the whole school. We’ve got to remember that if kids and teenagers are doing things that make us feel worried or angry, it’s often because they really haven’t learned or developed the necessary skills.
RATHER THAN PUNISHMENT, TRY FOCUSING ON SKILL-BUILDING
Sometimes people want to put kids in categories and say ‘so-and-so is nice’, or ‘so-and-so is bad’. The nice ones are never supposed to do anything wrong. The bad ones are supposed to be not capable of doing the right thing.
But again, we don’t live in an ideal world. If the parents had never had a conversation about sharing pictures, then the girl might not have realised there was even a rule to break. The boy who shared it broke a school rule and also broke the girl’s trust. So as a parent, it may be worth involving the school and possibly other parents and make sure all the kids are aware of their responsibilities and what’s okay and what’s not.
But they’re all kids. They still need guidance and certainly in that pre-teen to teen age-group, peer pressure comes into play. Kids make mistakes. Instead of mum or dad saying: “They’ve done something wrong and I need to punish them”, they can think: “Okay, I see what’s happened here, she doesn’t have a particular skill and I need to help her develop that”. This is a very different mindset, with a positive approach.