Have you ever looked at the pile of dishes in the sink, the paw prints on the floor, and your ever-growing mountain of laundry and thought to yourself,
“How will I ever find the time to keep up with my tween online?!”
Sure, there are people who lock themselves away all day and do nothing but monitor phones and research their darling’s latest apps. But if you have a hard time relating to those parents — if you have a day job or other kids to tend to or, um, like to sleep — you’re not alone.
Most of us have precious few hours each week to devote to non-active parenting – and the overwhelming majority of emails I receive from my readers say this is a big cause for frustration:
How can you keep up with your child’s app use, but not neglect the rest of your life?
I DID find a solution to this and don’t worry — I’m going to spell that solution out.
For the sake of no Fakebooking — or FakeBlogging? — FIRST, you need to see my BEFORE.
Before we dig in, you should know that:
This is Post #2 in your "Bad Apps Chase Series" and it is a TELL-ALL confession.
But, if you have not yet read Post #1, then click here to do so first.
There's a link at the end of that post that will lead you right back here. I like to make things easy to find. :)
Now, if your child has a new device or will be getting one soon: click here to download your checklist made specifically for you. It will make this series much easier to swallow.
And then, let's dig in.
You can listen to this post in the video below, or read on just below that.
Because the Real World confessional lover in me knows that this?
Is going to be GOOD.
Here's a little ditty ... NOT 'bout Jack & Diane!
In the summer of 2008 I traded in my Teacher Hat for my Writer Cap.
This was also when my son, Brody, was born and I quickly realized that I just wasn't equipped to juggle 3 kids and working outside of the home at the same time.
So I began freelance writing online for places including allParenting, Everyday Family, and Mamalode Magazine.
I worked late nights and early mornings and I'll be honest with you: this writing was a lifeline.
It was something that was all mine and that I did when no one else in my house needed a single thing.
I will always hold a special place in my MamaHeart for these online spaces because they made me feel so much less alone as a new mom and they took a chance on me as a new writer.
2014, though, is when my story changed.
I wrote an article for The Huffington Post about marriage and the comments that came in on it were about my weight and how fat I looked in my wedding dress.
When I read those comments, I was ashamed and embarrassed.
So I (subconsciously) decided not to tell anyone besides my husband what had happened.
I screen capped three of those comments — the ones you see above — and I saved them onto my desktop until, a few months later, I decided to write a second article for xoJane.
I said two things in that second article:
1. Let's not talk about other peoples' bodies.
2. And let's all be a whole lot kinder to each other online.
That article went viral and was featured on the TODAY show, Inside Edition, Upworthy, TIME magazine and more.
But you know what?
Something MUCH more interesting than that happened at my own house just a few weeks later.
My own daughter came home and announced that SHE wanted to be online.
Her friends were using Instagram and she wanted in.
In that moment, I knew that I was looking into the eyes of a lovely, mature, smart young lady who could absolutely handle this.
But what I FELT?
Was her baby eyes looking at me, and all I wanted to DO was protect her.
I couldn't imagine saying "yes" to her going into a space where something like the online fat shaming that I had experienced had the potential to happen to her.
So I did EXACTLY what you're NOT supposed to do.
I didn't parent.
I didn't discuss.
And to be perfectly honest, I didn't listen.
I just said, "no."
I was parenting out of fear.
And not only that, but I stayed ridiculously STUBBORN about it!
It was a few days later, when she asked again — while I was looking through the very app that I had just told her that she couldn't use! — that I realized that I was doing this all wrong.
So I rolled up my sleeves ...
And I taught her everything I could think of about being kind on Instagram.
We talked about comments and private messages and tags and posts and likes and and challenges and memes.
I dug SO DEEP and I was feeling SO PROUD of myself.
A bit later when I was scrolling through my own Instagram feed and I saw my daughter in an Instagram video.
I hadn't realized that Instagram had rolled out a video feature.
But her friends sure had.
I was so mired in that one app that when I saw this new feature — which, let's just face it, new features happen ALL THE TIME — I felt like the rug had been pulled right out from under me.
I was back in a tailspin trying to learn:
- How to use the feature
- What the loopholes were
- And what the potential was for danger and bullying
But in the back of my head —
Even then I think I knew ...
I'd never be able to keep up with every single change. I'm not Steve Jobs!
Now, I'd REALY like to tell you that I learned this lesson quickly.
But I care too much about you to lie to you.
Every single time she wanted a new app or her current apps changed — Hello, disappearing videos on Instagram! — or something scary happened in our community with kids online, I was right back where I started.
And I realized that running on this hamster wheel — chasing those "bad apps" — was NO WAY to live.
I had sneaky suspicion that what I was doing WASN'T EFFECTIVE or foolproof.
As soon as:
- The apps changed.
- Who she was interacting with changed.
- She could figure out a loophole to my monitoring.
- Or the apps she and her friends were drawn to changed ...
My "teaching" became OBSOLETE and I needed to start ALL OVER AGAIN.
Talk about a WOMP-WOMP.
AUTHOR: GALIT BREEN
Hi, I'm Galit. (*My name is pronounced guh-leet + means little waves, like in the ocean.) I give you the tools you need to let your kids benefit from the amazing things the online world has to offer them and create a popsicle dripping, chapter book reading (in one sitting!), leaf crunching childhood that they deserve. Welcome, I'm so glad you're here. What can you expect from me? I spill it all right here.