My child keeps getting around our controls. What do I do? Q&A with a digital parenting expert

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Every week, we’ll be inviting our digital parenting expert, Kristen Chase, to answer your questions. First up, what do you do when your child keeps circumventing your parental controls?

As a parent myself, I know how difficult digital parenting can be, especially considering most of us aren’t digital natives ourselves. Even though we might be pretty tech savvy, our kids are always going to be at least one step ahead of us. Luckily, the issue of kids circumventing your parental controls isn’t actually a tech question. It’s a parenting one. (Which means, it’s also a trickier one, too).

You can continue to play a cat and mouse game with your kids, and institute various incentives or punishments to get them to follow your rules, but if you want to actually solve the problem, you’re going to need to get to the root. And that is answering the why question.

I suggest sitting down with your child when you’re both calm, and ask them their thoughts on their own technology usage and what they think of your current rules. Be curious in your line of questioning and in your tone of voice, and do your best to listen objectively.

Once you have an understanding, include them in the decision making process of your limit setting, as well as the consequences of what happens if they break them. If they’re getting their homework done, they’re contributing to the household by doing their chores, getting enough sleep, and doing any of the other things you value in your home, then should they be allowed more ownership and flexibility? And if they’re unable to keep up their end of the bargain, do they understand what will happen?

You might be surprised at how in tune your kids are with their own needs (which is an important skill), and how able they are to express that in an environment that feels safe and non-judgmental. Giving them agency can help them feel more invested, and less likely to circumvent the rules since they were a part of making them.

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