Learning boundaries is one of the hardest life lessons and one of the most important ones to our mental health. A few years ago I read the book, “Life Code,” by Dr. Phil, and it reinforced my belief in the importance of having an intuition about who you surround yourself with and who you allow speaking into your life. With our teens, this is amplified. They have so many voices in the digital world telling them who they are, how to think, what to believe and how the world is.
While I began to look deeper into what it looks like to create healthy boundaries for our kids on their devices, I began to think about if I had taught my kids what boundaries are? I realize I needed to incorporate that talk into the list of “must teach my kids,” along with the stranger danger talk, the sex talk, the relationships talk, and the self-identity talk. It is on the same level of importance in my book.
Today each of these life lessons “talks” has to translate into their digital lives.
We need to incorporate relationship boundaries, communication boundaries, emotional boundaries into our digital lives. When I ask the teens I work with what their digital standards are, and what they allow into their lives, they look at me like whaaaaat?, it’s just social media. Just social media is the mindset, but the reality is that the emotional impact is taking a toll on our kid’s mental health to the point that suicide in girls is up 200% in the last 10 years. YIKES. We are passively allowing all of the influences to inundate our kids with every feed refresh.
So let’s set up some boundaries:
Start with a self-evaluation:
If you’d like to go through this evaluation with your student you will have an idea of where they are.
Next move on to the Springboard discussion questions:
Education is the foundation of the digital world. We can’t just set up the rules without first communicating with our kids why we want them to stay healthy on their devices. If we just give the rules and lock down their phones and monitor, monitor, monitor you will see a lot of push back, rebellion, sneaky behavior and then what happens when they are young adults and on their own.
We suggest walking through the process with your teen. Laying a foundation for how to set up boundaries in every area of their lives.
After you have an understanding of where your teen is at in these areas:
Relationships: Who they follow, who follows them, Favorite YouTubers, Favorite follows, biggest influences on them, Spam accounts (private accounts teens use to share more info then on their public accounts), who is sliding into their DM’s (contacting because they are cute, for hookups etc.)? Are they dating anyone online? email me Hello@LetsTalkTeens.com.
Exposure: What kind of headlines they are seeing, how is it impacting their anxiety and confidence? Seeing constant world issues like school shootings, kidnappings, politics etc. can be a lot to handle for any of us. It is scary for a teen to wake up to a “Snapchat discover post” from a news channel about a school shooting, then have to head to school. How does that impact their anxiety level, their ability to focus on learning?
Comparison: Comparison kills confidence. It’s hard enough to compare yourself to anyone and everyone at school, now we take that with us and it’s not just the 3000 kids at school, it’s the entire world, celebrities, and social media influencers included, not to mention image filtering. What does their self-identity look like? Are they able to separate themselves from the social pressures of social media?
A huge question to ask is “what triggers your anxiety on your devices?”
They may not know the answer because many are desensitized. My suggestion is to take a week off from their digital lives, then do a trigger test when they return. You can do it with them. Write down what triggers anxiety and discomfort and set up boundaries accordingly.
Now it’s time to set up boundaries based on your evaluation of the digital health of your child.
Make a side by side list of digital practices on one side, then move the unhealthy ones on paper to the other side. Go back to your child’s devices and make necessary changes on each app and on the device itself.
Go to the Parent-child agreement and lay out the family’s digital standards and boundaries. Making it very clear helps with the emotional push back.
TOOLS & SAFETY NETS:
I believe it’s important to establish 3 “safety nets” (meaning 3 tools, like parent controls, on the device itself, safe filters, and a monitoring tool).
My favorite tool right now is the new Apple iOS 12 update with SCREEN TIME. This is something we can do together. We can do weekly check-ins with goals and accountability. I use the tool myself to stop working at 6. All of my working and social media Apps shut down and it gives me peace.
Here’s a how-to guide for you:
I would love to hear your reports on how this all goes! Please share your digital boundary progress on social media. Tag us and use the #LTTDigitalBoundaries
Catch our Let’s Talk FACEBOOK LIVE series where we talk Digital Boundaries Tuesday 1 pm 1.29.19.
Do you want help setting up your child’s digital boundaries? Please email us!