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Set Rules and Limitations NOW

Technology and Your Child

Here is an email I recently received from a local teacher:

Dear Sensei,

I was just contacted by a parent of ours that is struggling with her son playing video games with other boys and chatting. I don’t know what it’s called when you can chat with others during your game. Hahahaha.

Boys are cussing. Bad bad cussing. I mean really bad. Boys are demeaning others. Boys are trash talking this mom when they know she’s listening.

She doesn’t know what to do about it. I told her to have a discussion with her son and ask his opinion about the chatting that goes on. I also told her I would reach out to get your opinions.

When students who are 11 years old are doing this now, it makes me wonder what will happen when they are in middle and high school.

A question she had was, should she approach the other boys’ parents?

Is this something we even want to get involved in?

I want to help her because I know it’s just the beginning of this type of behavior.

Ms. Teacher

And here was my response:

Ms. Teacher,

Thanks for your email. Yes, of course we should help this mother. This is an issue effecting virtually all of our children to some extent.

But I think this is about a much bigger issue than just the use of foul language by young boys. Here is a good article to start with:

I have often heard it said - the problem of the use of technology by children will not be solved by our generation, it will be solved by our kids when they have kids. What this comes down to is basic parenting but the dilemma is we as parent in this new tech age, do not know how to handle the technology ourselves?

We just need to remember not to let the internet and technology cause us to forget good old basic parenting. Parents just need to treat use of technology like any other thing their young children do – there needs to be clear and consistent rules and limitations. Is there any difference between a child playing on a public playground and playing online on the internet? Would you let your 11- year old play on a public playground any time of the day or night, for as long as they want, with anyone they want without you there?

They say to treat the internet like an open door to your home.

An 11 years old a boy cannot set responsible and reasonable limitation and rules on himself yet. We have to as parents, and if we have taught our child well, he will set his own limits and self-regulate as he grows and matures. There is another dilemma, they have proven videos games are addictive to young brains. Also working against us is at this age, is a shifting of a child's primary motivation from pleasing their parents to pleasing their peers.

So, this may be hard for this mom because the longer she has gone without any limitations or rules on technology use the more difficult it will be to start. It will take strength, courage and toughness. Until her 11 year old can demonstrate responsibility and reasonable use of technology she needs to limit when, where, with whom he plays and she need to monitor his play. Then as he learns and demonstrates responsibility he earns freedom as a reward. (Much like getting to drive a car later?). BTW, putting these rules and limitation in place now will make her life with this boy much easier in his high school years!

As far as telling the other moms, I would be careful. First, you cannot control what other kids or parents do, so concentrate on yours. The other thing is unless you know the other parent well, parents do not like other parents tell them how to parent. The most I might do is say “Did you know your son is using extremely foul language online?” And leave it at that.

This is just a classic case of tough love parenting. Put clear and consistent rules and limitations in your child’s life early. Children actually thrive on structure and certainty.

I hope this helps,


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