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social media/technology “trainers”

by Shawni
As parents we are “trainers” in so many ways.

We train our children to talk, to walk, to eat, to smile in the beginning.

We train them to say “please” and “thank you,” to look adults in the eye, to build a tower with blocks, to take turns, to read, to write, to know without thinking that if you times three by five you get fifteen.

Oh the things we get to be responsible to teach and train are endless…and exciting.

But can be so daunting as well!

One of the things we must carefully train our children for in this generation is how to use technology and social media in a positive way.

My sister and I did our little Conference for Moms interview a while ago and I used a lot of questions and tips from blog readers from this post back HERE.  THANK YOU for your input!  It made me think so much about how we do things so I’m so grateful.

And today is the day that interview is posted…me, blabbing out over the internet the virtues and dangers of social media and all that comes with it.  Ha!

I watched it for the first time just now.  Oh man I don’t love to watch myself on video, but there’s some good food for thought on there…especially after the half-way point (I think that’s when we kind of got in our groove).  Skip to about minute thirty if you want to get to the good stuff:)

Here are the things I hope listeners come away with:

1) Train by example.  Be careful not to let that cell phone of yours become an appendage 😉

How I hope my kids will remember me like this:

And not with my eyes glued to a cell phone.

2) Put off giving kids cell phones for as long as you can, and when you are ready, have your children sign a contract before you hand it over.  Have kids be involved in constructing that technology contract!

I think it’s such a great idea to remember you are “training” those kids of yours to use technology in a positive way, so let them add more aps only after they are sufficiently “trained” to use them.

For example, if you feel your child is ready to start “training” for Instagram, maybe let them check their account only on your phone at first.  Or make sure they accept followers only after you have approved them.  I’d suggest even having them get your approval each time before they post anything so you can talk through things with them.  We didn’t do this with our first three kids and they are just fine, but what a great way to start out with technology in a positive way!

I talked a lot about open passwords in the family and no privacy for kids in what they post from parents.  I also talked about monitoring what kids post and checking in on their phones often, but didn’t really clarify that there’s no chance in the world to monitor everything.  If we tried that we would drive ourselves completely crazy!  I just think it’s good to check in every now and again.  Not only does it help us help our kids with a positive technology experience but it gives a lot of great discussion topics to go over with kids…because communication is so dang important.  In fact…

3) Communication is key.  That’s why I love the “contract” idea.  It gives a baseline for communication and can help keep an open dialog between parents and kids about what is appropriate.

Within that communication, praise kids when they balance things well.  It’s a tough job for them and let them know you’re proud with how they deal with things.  When they don’t do so well, sit down and talk to them face to face.  Let them know why you’re worried.  Follow through with consequences! That’s the only way they’ll know you’re serious.

4) Let kids know the big picture.  We as parents are not trying to inflict pain on them.  We are not trying to ruin their lives.  We simply care about them.  We love them.  We want them to have positive human relationships as well as a positive relationship with social media and it takes a little work and communication.  Kids need to know that technology isn’t just a toy.  There are dangers and detrimental things that come from those shiny objects and we parents are trying to train them to take their own ownership in how to make all that technology a positive influence in their lives.


This summer at Bear Lake I loved learning through Elle some of the things she was learning in her college summer school class (we posted a link for one of her assignments back HERE which was really interesting to think about how social media spreads).  It was kind of fascinating to listen in on an online video she was watching.  I made her rewind part of it a million times so I could write out one part in particular that caught my attention:

“This generation has grown up in the arena of “likes.”  So it’s no wonder that so many are turning into master manipulators of social media themselves.

Like the hidden game-masters in the “Hunger Games.”

The Hunger Games could be a representation of social media today.  Social media sort of rips people apart.  They are all put into this arena where you are forced to try to survive on your own.  ‘Those high ratings mean sponsors.’  ‘To get sponsors you have to make people like you.’

Push the like button now!!  The game makers sit and watch them, but basically they are alone trying to survive.  “Do you really want to know how to survive?  You get people to like you.”

In the end, that’s how the “game of likes” is played.  It feels empowering and feels like a social community, but ultimately kids are in there alone, trying to live and survive.”

When we think of social media in that perspective, we realize that it is a pretty crazy world out there.  Of course some kids are just fine, but others get lost in that “game of likes.”  Self-esteem is ripped apart, friendships can be broken, and kids can feel alone even in a world where they have so many “virtual friends.”

If we as parents can take the initiative to help them maneuver their way to a positive relationship with technology what a great gift we can give.

How great it is to be a mother.  We get to train and teach these children entrusted in our care to broaden their minds and contribute to the world. 

Technology can largely hinder our job, but can also enhance it so fully.  We just need to find the balance.  And help our kids find it as well.

So go listen in and see what you think.  Again, if you don’t have a whole hour to listen, start half way through.  I think that’s where we really get to the grit of it all.

The link to listen in on the mom conference is HERE.  Once you register, you will be sent a link to listen in (be sure to check spam folders if it doesn’t come right away).

Although the conference ends today, you can still listen in to all the sessions from today as well as the last few days.  They will be sending out info. to the registrants on how to do that within the next couple days.

I’m off to listen to all the other presenters.

Happy listening!

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Elizabeth October 13, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Just curious at what age you stop monitoring your kids' social media? My 18 yo thinks it's none of my business…ugh!

Audrey Saunders October 14, 2016 - 12:31 am

Are you paying for his phone? Is he still living under your roof? It's still your business.

kms October 14, 2016 - 1:15 am

What country do you live in? In the US 18 years is old enough to enroll in college without parental permission, work, join the military, serve a mission, marry, vote for president, sign legal contracts. Do you think it's time to be done with the micromanagement of the surveillance?

Anonymous October 14, 2016 - 1:48 am

No. when they live on their own- not on my dime – then the surveillance stops. I pay, I monitor. I feel so sorry for the wimpy parents who don't have the courage to do this.

kms October 14, 2016 - 3:32 am

It's pretty obvious if all LDS kids have to go on a mission and do a study abroad which means a few semesters at school, before applying, and then actually doing it then their parents are basically encouraging them to remain "kids" for an extra 3-4 years. When are the kids old enough to monitor their parents social media and maybe ask parents to take off the content? There is a case in Australia of an 18 year old suing her parents to remove baby pictures. Whatever happened to training kids to be independent and ready to leave the nest by incrementally giving them freedom and responsiblities. Is the decision at at 5 to go on a mission truly theirs and the decision at 8 to be baptized sincere if the same person at 18 needs mommy or daddy peeking and critiquing every text and site visited? One of the most positive things about LDS culture is their kids are raised the leave the nest after mission. Earlier for women with marriage. Max's prom date is married. Does marriage make her more an adult than her son? Is a person old enough to serve a mission old enough to use Facebook by themselves? Whatever happened to treating adults like adults so they will behave like adults? Mutual respect? Shouldn't parents spending years peeking in their kids social media already have taught their kids whatever they needed to know already by 18? Why is the mother of an 18 year old still parenting? You are basically a hands off life coach at that stage. Not a babysitter.

Bomb in A Birdcage October 14, 2016 - 12:17 pm

Parents who give their legally adult children privacy & TRUST to be responsible are wimpy? If we are going to be rude, then I think parents who haven't prepared their children to independently think & make good decisions are wimpy. Have fun living with your 30 year old "child" who was never taught how to transition to adulthood, Maria.

Shawni October 15, 2016 - 7:02 pm

In our family we let go when that child graduates from high school (which happens to be 18 so far since we have late birthdays). We feel like by then we sure hope we've trained them well enough to make some smart decisions!

Rachel October 13, 2016 - 9:49 pm

Great job, Shawni and Saren! I loved the discussion! You were both so real & honest about the challenges and that you DON'T have all the answers, but I also learned so much from what you HAVE done so far. So many good things to think about, as my oldest just turned thirteen and we are venturing into this brave new world. Thank you so much for the advice & letting us know we're NOT alone, we have a village!

Kerstin October 14, 2016 - 11:06 am

I've yet just read the snippets and haven't listened to the whole interview. I'm looking forward to an explanation of "no privacy", because I believe that the older kids get the more they should be taught about privacy.

As for Elizabeth above: I believe that with 18 it's none ofyour buisness anymore. But I can easily imagine that it's hard for a parent to make the transition!

Shauna October 14, 2016 - 2:21 pm

I thought the interview was great! It gave me a lot to think about. I don't have kids with a cell phone yet but we do deal with video games a lot with my boys. It motivated me to really think about some boundaries for them.

likeschocolate October 14, 2016 - 3:46 pm

Loved your interview. My husband and I have made some mistakes with our oldest child, but we have decided that it isn't too late to put in place some better rules for for the other 5. One thing I wish was that technology wasn't so important for completing homework. Our school district has very little paper and almost all work is done on-line. So frustrating when you want to take away a device and the consequences for doing so are more than just loosing being in contact with your friends.

Kristyn October 14, 2016 - 4:47 pm

Loved your interview and thank you for this post. We are just coming into this whole world of technology and children as they are getting older. This gives us lots to think about and discuss of what will work best for our family. Appreciate your insight!

Eyrealm October 16, 2016 - 5:26 am

Such a great "conference talk"! Your kids are so lucky to have you. Saren's too! Good stuff!

Eyrealm October 16, 2016 - 5:26 am

Such a great "conference talk"! Your kids are so lucky to have you. Saren's too! Good stuff!

Eyrealm October 16, 2016 - 3:10 pm

Love seeing you two in action. I thought your presentation was terrific with lots of great ideas! This is a enormous issue in our families …. without an instruction manual! I'm blessed to be your mother!

Margaret W. Hammond, RDN October 16, 2016 - 6:16 pm

Really enjoyed your webinar on technology! Trying to find the technology contract you had a link for on the Moms Conference. Could you share the link, please?

Shawni October 26, 2016 - 3:31 pm

Hi Margaret, sorry this is late but here's the link to our technology contract:

Kimber October 17, 2016 - 2:36 am

oh wow this makes me sick for my kids! The quoted part from the Elle's class is so real. I only have little ones and have no clue what it will be like in years down the road but Satan is so awful!!!!! Peer pressure can be so hard and technology makes it a thousand times harder! I'm so glad you shared these tips though, I read them through with my husband and we had a great conversation about it. Thank you a million times over Shawni!!!!!!!!

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