Stop Being Controlling When Teaching Good Tech Use

Reagan Fausett

“If you really loved me you’d let me do what I want!” Ever heard this laughable (but sometimes hurtful) rebuttal from your kids? You love your kids. And you’d do anything to keep them safe and happy. In fact, it’s because of that love that you won’t let them go to that party or hang out with those friends. 

Kids have a hard time seeing the love behind any rule they don’t like, but it’s especially hard for them to see or feel the love behind your guidance if they feel strong-armed into obedience. Obviously we need to have rules as parents, but perhaps the ways that we implement those rules with our children can border on overbearing or controlling. Let’s look at some signs of being controlling and some tips about how to avoid being controlling when teaching your kids good tech use. 

Signs of Being Controlling

Decision Making

Kids make poor decisions sometimes, and the consequences of those decisions can be pretty unpleasant. You love your kids—you don’t want to see them get hurt. That’s why it’s hard to watch your kids make choices that you know might be detrimental to them. But even though it’s difficult to watch your kids struggle, it can be the best way to help them learn. 

Sometimes in our efforts to protect our kids from harm, we actually do more harm by not letting them make their own decisions and learn from them. If you struggle letting your kids make decisions, it might be beneficial to step back a bit and allow them to make some choices for themselves—even if that means letting them suffer some difficult consequences. 

“Because I Said So”

We’ve all used the “because I said so” card when we couldn’t come up with a good reason for our children to obey a certain rule. Sure, you can get away with that every now and again, but if that phrase becomes your mantra, you’re teaching your child that rules are subjective to your unknown reasoning. Not only that, but your child will be much less inclined to listen to your guidance if they don’t understand why they’re doing it. If you’ve fallen into the habit of just telling your kids what to do without helping them understand why, next time you tell your child to do or not do something, consider explaining the ‘why’ to them first. 

Words of Affirmation

We always want our kids to improve. But sometimes in our overzealousness to help them improve, we forget that they need more than just advice—they need encouragement. If a child only receives advice on how they can improve, whether it be in school, sports, music, etc., they begin to feel like they’ll never live up to the expectations set for them. Without words of affirmation and encouragement, a child can lose their motivation and self-esteem. If you tend to focus more on giving criticism (no matter how constructive it may be), your child might feel that they can never be good enough. 

Your Child Isn’t You

It can be tough to avoid comparing what you would do in a situation to what your child does. Whereas we adults can see obvious errors in logic and reasoning, kids are still figuring all that out. If you have a tendency to get upset when your child doesn’t react to a situation in the way that you see fit, try to remember that when you were a kid, you probably made similar errors in judgement. If you allow your child the freedom to make their own choices even if it isn’t what you would do, they’ll begin to learn more and develop a greater independence. 

How to Avoid Being Controlling When Teaching Good Technology Usage 

The Internet is full of scary things. When it comes to teaching your child technology usage and healthy technology habits, it can be nerve-racking to think about giving your child free-rein over something that can be so harmful. Clearly, rules must be established to prevent any dangerous situations such as encounters with pornography or sexual predators, but the way that those rules are implemented can either be helpful or damaging. 

Trust Your Child

We would never want our children to be harmed by something on the Internet. Ergo, we do everything in our power to prevent that from happening. Although that may seem like a good thing, it can also be a bad thing if it prevents us from trusting our children with any sort of responsibility when it comes to tech. 

Everyone needs to feel trusted. If we’re constantly looking over our kids’ shoulders and putting restrictions on their tech use, our kids will be more likely to go behind our backs when they want some privacy, potentially leading to much more dangerous habits than if we had trusted them in the first place. 

Trust doesn’t mean carte blanche. As parents, we need to give guidance and set boundaries. But rather than becoming controlling, we can explain to our children why we’ve set the limitations we have and even have them help set some of their own. The point is, let your child know that you trust them to make the right choice with technology. And if something happens, you trust them to come to you and talk about it. Here are a few ideas of how you can teach your child healthy technology habits while still letting them know you trust them. 

Guide, Don’t Pressure

When we give our children guidance, it should be just that: guiding—not pressuring or forcing. If we pressure our kids too much into doing something, they miss out on making their own decisions and learning from them. They might even begin to develop a sense of resentment against you for making them do something they didn’t want to.

Some pressure can be beneficial. The pressure of having high expectations for your children can be beneficial to them, but only if it’s coupled with exhibiting high levels of love and concern. Avoid excessively pressuring your children into doing something just because you think it’s best for them, especially when it isn’t an important decision. 

When it comes to technology usage, explain to your children why there needs to be rules in place. Listen to their concerns and questions, and do your best to help them understand why you’ve chosen to set the rules you have. Then, rather than forcing them into compliance, help them understand why the rules are beneficial for them so that they’re encouraged to choose to follow those rules rather than break them. 

Open Communication

Kids are going to make mistakes when it comes to technology usage. There’s no preventing that. But what you can prevent is making those mistakes become habits. If your child knows that they can come and talk to you about their mistakes without you reacting negatively, they’ll be more likely to trust you with that information. Part of developing healthy technology habits is learning from mistakes. Make it clear to your kids that you will help them when they make a mistake if they come to you. If they know that you won’t unjustly or severely punish them when they tell you about something they saw or did, they’ll want to come to you for help. 
Though it’s difficult, remember that you can’t do everything for your child. You have to allow them to make decisions, mess up, and learn. Refrain from controlling every aspect of their lives, even if that means letting them get hurt sometimes. If you guide rather than control, chances are, your children will come to realize that your guidance is sound. One of the best ways to guide when it comes to technology usage is with a Troomi phone. Troomi helps you guide your child while still giving them freedom to choose. With Troomi, your child can learn healthy technology habits that will help them transition to a regular smartphone when they’re ready. Check out Troomi to find the plan that fits your family the best!