Photo by Lonely Planet on UnsplashI run groups for kids who have been caught sexting. On the first day of group, parents are clued into the dangers of technology and given advice on how to lock everything down to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I recommend monitoring devices and instituting technology curfews. However, one of my most important recommendations is strengthening the relationship with their child and opening the lines of communication.

With everything going on in our busy worlds, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that kids really just want to spend time with you. When you spend one-on-one time connecting with your kids, you’re laying the ground work, building a strong foundation and ultimately opening the lines of communication.

Kids need to know you’re available and accessible, and having a “date night” is one way to do so.

This time together can also provide an opening for difficult conversations. When you’re busy doing an activity, kids are typically more willing to talk. So, invite your kid out, have fun and build (or repair) that connection.

Rules for your "date" 

 

Be present: create a device-free zone

No need to be formal, it’s one-on-time with each child

Alternate who chooses the activity

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things

You don’t have to spend money, teach your child the value of spending time together not the value of spending money

Listen, don’t do all the talking

Feeling overwhelmed: once a month for a couple of hours is better than nothing

Follow through, don’t disappoint or over-commit yourself

Stop use of screen recording

Kids are getting around Apple’s restrictions by using the screen recording functionality. Here’s how:

  • turn on screen recording
  • hand a parent their device and ask them to login to Screen Time to change a setting or upload an app for them
  • the recording, which is saved to their phone, shows the Screen Time passcode
  • with the passcode, they can turn off restrictions

Two ways to stop this:

  • In Screen Time, turn off screen recording (under Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions)
  • If your child hands you their phone to do something, look for a red bar across the top of the screen, or the red recording icon at the top right. If you see either, they are recording

Stop use of screen recording

Kids are getting around Apple’s restrictions by using the screen recording functionality. Here’s how:

  • turn on screen recording
  • hand a parent their device and ask them to login to Screen Time to change a setting or upload an app for them
  • the recording, which is saved to their phone, shows the Screen Time passcode
  • with the passcode, they can turn off restrictions

Two ways to stop this:

  • In Screen Time, turn off screen recording (under Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions)
  • If your child hands you their phone to do something, look for a red bar across the top of the screen, or the red recording icon at the top right. If you see either, they are recording

Stop use of screen recording

Kids are getting around Apple’s restrictions by using the screen recording functionality. Here’s how:

  • turn on screen recording
  • hand a parent their device and ask them to login to Screen Time to change a setting or upload an app for them
  • the recording, which is saved to their phone, shows the Screen Time passcode
  • with the passcode, they can turn off restrictions

Two ways to stop this:

  • In Screen Time, turn off screen recording (under Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions)
  • If your child hands you their phone to do something, look for a red bar across the top of the screen, or the red recording icon at the top right. If you see either, they are recording

Dynamics

 

If there are two parents in your home, both need to participate, separately; rotate so that each kid gets one-on-one time with each parent

Fathers of adolescent daughters, you especially need to spend one-on-one time; adolescent girls frequently feel abandoned by their fathers once they hit puberty

If you’re a single parent and can’t get a sitter, plan time at home after the other kids go to bed or have settled in their bedrooms, or in the morning before the other children wake up

Activity ideas 

 

Play a board game

Do a puzzle

Find free events in your town

Take a class at the local recreation center

Go for a walk or hike

Go to the park and shoot hoops, play catch or throw a Frisbee

Find a Groupon or Living Social deal for a new activity

Buy a kit from a craft store (with a coupon!) and put it together

Go for a bike ride

Go out for donuts and coffee and hot chocolate

Borrow a video from the library and watch it, discuss after

Go window shopping

Go fishing

Go out for ice cream or make ice cream sundaes at home

Go to a museum, gallery, or the zoo (look up free days!)

Cook or bake together

Build something

Pick them up from school and go out to lunch

Go to a movie together (alternate who picks the movie), discuss after

It’s never too late to start. You may get a few eyes rolls at the suggestion. You might even be told how embarrassing you are, and that they don’t want to be seen with you in public. Don’t give up on the idea or feed into their negativity. Be enthusiastic about it, do it regularly, and show your kids how important this is for you. Have fun, and let us know how it goes.

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Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW

Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW

I'm a clinical social worker and child advocate. After more than 20 years of working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings I created Sexting Solutions, a successful program designed to teach kids to respect themselves and others, show empathy and stop abuse. Intended as an alternative to legal consequences for kids who were caught sexting, it focuses on building skills that develop a solid foundation for healthier adolescent years and beyond. Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking the icon directly below.