How should parents monitor device usage to be sure it's appropriate?
The question of monitoring is deeply personal. Every child is different and may need different levels of support and intervention with their screens. I encourage families to get to know parental controls, filters and digital supports that exist. Spend time vetting them and seeing if and how they can work to support your family. But what is more important to me than monitoring is that we’re not using blocks and controls to replace our parenting. We still need to be focused on the relationship, the digital citizenship education of the child and be engaged in conversations about experiences, mistakes and expectations online.
In addition to parental controls, here are some low risk prompts to emotionally monitor - especially during this different:
Who did you play online with today? How far did you make it in your game?
Did you see any news or stories about COVID-19? Is there anything you want to talk about?
How are your (specific) friends doing? What’s going on for them and their families during this time?
Tell me about your classroom meetup today. Was there a high or low moment during the group session?
Show me that TikTok dance you’re working on. Tell me the name of the YouTuber you love. What did you stream anything new online lately?
For some families, digital monitoring feels necessary to prevent truly dangerous (often repeated) behaviors. For other families, digital monitoring is a choice because our child's use is generally typical. Remember, there is more to it than "set & forget" whatever decision we make around monitoring. We've got to do the parenting work of communicating, checking in & setting expectations & boundaries.