I read a lot of posts about parenting/ teaching. I just read one where a mom was saying one of her young teen’s “friends” smuggled her child a phone so that both kids could look at pornography together. This mom was imploring all moms to take away all electronics and make sure children could not have access. However, I think that there is a lot more to this story.
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Limiting Screen Time: Protect your Children
Children need to be protected from things when they are young and taught to make Biblical decisions. We as moms/parents need to be diligent in knowing what is going on in our children’s lives and hearts. We need to pray earnestly and ask for wisdom. We need to be intentional about teaching God’s truths: What God wants for us is for our good. What God does not want for us is not for our good. I certainly hope that if someone tried to give one of my children a phone against my wishes to watch pornography, my child would have said NO.
At our house, the computer was in the kitchen. Everyone could see what was going on. There were codes and passwords for “after hours.” No phones were allowed till they were a high school senior and these would be checked periodically. Music was out loud rather by headphones, both for accountability and to protect their hearing. I’m not saying our electronics never got misused, but I am saying we were trying to be as careful as we knew how to protect our children from the bad things that are out on the internet.
Note: We do recommend the Covenant Eyes program especially for the young men in your life. If your child visits any “flagged” sites, emails go out to you, your pastor and/or another mentor that you choose.
Additional Insight shared from Marlena Gross:
You are making a valid point: that being a part of our children’s lives and teaching them what God wants for our lives is definitely the right direction to go.
I do have to say though, that kids just make dumb choices, sometimes regardless of how much we are trying to influence them not to.
Screen Time and Pornography: Lock down needed!
Being the parent of 5 biological children and 4 adopted children, nearly all of which are boys, sometimes the threat is very real! Boys, once brought into the world of pornography, struggle, sometimes desperately, with the ability to turn off the thoughts and especially the screens for such things. Two of my biological boys struggled with this so badly, we have had to lock down electronics for their safety. My daughter however, did not suffer with such things. She had regular access to what she needed. She would have been the one to say no.
Screen Time: Friend Influence
The relationships are there for all of them but for two, it was just something we had to shut down until they could handle the temptation. They would have wanted to say no, because of our relationship, but the friend influence at that age was tremendously influential that I don’t know that they would have been able to say no in that particular situation.
Limiting Screen time and Tantrums
As far as my adopted children who come from trauma backgrounds, just 20 min of normal screen exposure makes their brains do things I’ve never seen before! The stimulation is so severe that when the screen is turned off after even such a short time, they have raging tantrums! We do turn off screens for them because they cannot do it for themselves.
We are in their lives, speaking to them about their relationships with God daily and trying to be the best influence we can, but when one was offered a phone because “it didn’t work right anymore”, he took it and figured out how to do things with it, like look at amazon and play games. Harmlless enough, but not for him. He would rage after anyone in his path until we realized the source and turned it off.
All of this to say, as a teenager, we are no longer the biggest influence in their lives. It is natural for friends to take over in that way. Yes, a good relationship with your child will truly help, and hopefully as we do this, and as they grow, the decisions they make will be more in line with God’s ways but it is also an age of independence. They WILL make very bad decisions and we are still here for them when they do.
In our home, we have chosen not to allow personal cell phones until our children are capable of purchasing them on their own and even then, it will be a decision based on each child’s maturity level. We have one flip phone for home use that the kids can take with them to functions for communicating with us, although that does not eliminate the trouble they can get into, it does give them the opportunity to practice good choices.
Celebrate the Wins!
I hope that as a parent, whoever is reading this and struggles with these decisions can understand that each child is different and your relationship with each child is different. If one makes the right choice then there is truly cause for celebration!
Screen Time: Parent Through the Poor Choices
If one does not make the right choice, that is not necessarily reflective on your parenting skills. Some kids just need to test the limits in life to make sure you still love them! Don’t be afraid to give them the chance to mess up, but when they do, don’t be afraid to shut things down for a time either. Trust in the Lord as you carry on through parenting these adolescents and you will see the reward in the end.
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Additional information: We did limit phone time, starting with the fact that our children did not get phones until they were high school seniors. We had a trac phone they could take with them if they needed to have a phone when they were out and about. I just talked to a mom the other day that has the charging station for all the phones in her bedroom. At night she collects all the phones so all activity online stops. I thought that was a great idea. We have a desktop in the kitchen area so all use is easily monitored and we also have a subscription to Covenant Eyes. With the Covenant Eyes program, any mature sites are tagged and an email is sent to an accountability mentor. I certainly recommend the Covenant Eyes program.