At my son's birthday sleepover, several kids were unhappy
when I collected their cell phones after finding them texting after
midnight. Was I out of line?
Supervising your own children can be challenge enough, but
the truth is when other kids are in your home, you're responsible
for their behavior and use of technology. Figuring out just where
to draw the line can be tricky, depending on personalities, ages
and the environment.
For tweens especially, lines can be blurry as they begin
to gain tech privileges and get a feel for boundaries. Plus, their
social lives often revolve around technology, and tween guests may
bring cell phones, laptops, handheld video games and even entire
video game consoles over to your house.
Thinking ahead is the best way to make confident decisions
and manage the expectations of tween guests. Before your next
sleepover, scout camping trip or youth overnight, follow these
simple steps to avoid being caught off guard:
Make a proactive plea. When
inviting guests, include a brief statement about the activities
planned for the evening and a request to leave tech doodads at
home: "We'll be eating pizza, playing flashlight tag and watching a
movie. Please leave valuables, video games and cell phones safely
at home and get ready for a great night."
Plan tech-proof activities.
Requests to access YouTube or play video games will eventually come
up during the get-together, so be ready with a few fun alternatives
to keep kids on course-glow sticks, crafts, ice cream sundae
supplies, fort-making materials and spa accessories-and make a list
so the group knows what's coming next. When kids start to beg for
some technology, be ready with a quick reference to your list: "We
don't have time for video games because we've got four more
activities to get done before tomorrow!"
Collect gadgets before bed.
Despite your request to leave tech items at home, kids at the
gathering may still have a phone, iTouch or handheld video game
tucked discreetly in their backpacks. Even if they've been
tech-free so far, kids tend to take risks in groups and may reach
for those tech gadgets in the middle of the night. Once they've
settled in for the evening, collect all technology and return it
with a surprise the next morning-a cosmetic bag for girls or
trading cards for boys: "Put your cell phones and video games in
the basket-they will be waiting for you along with something
special when you wake up in the morning."
Apply your family rules.
When in doubt, your house rules rule. If you don't allow kids to
talk on cell phones in their bedrooms, the same rule should apply
during the party. If you don't allow T-rated games, stick to your
rule even when a friend brings over a game that everyone is dying
to play: "We only allow games rated for everyone-why don't you
choose the first game of the night from our collection."
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
See more of Sharon's stories here.
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