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Digital Respons-Ability

How to set up a pre-teen’s iPod

A pre-teen’s iPod is a big step for many families. Has your child been asking for one? Many find that it’s a great alternative to a phone and ensuing data plan, plus you can moderate its use better as you teach your child how to maintain privacy.

So my first-born child just turned 12. He’s starting Junior High and has been asking for an iPod for about three years. Since we’ve been hunkering down as a family during COVID, it became apparent to us that he was feeling lonely for his friends. So we decided it was time.

Working for Digital Respons-Ability and having the knowledge from our curriculum, I felt generally confident establishing protocol with my child. Establishing limits with him and discussing what he should not share online and why was even a good refresher for myself on keeping my own information private. Plus, Apple makes it easy for me to control what he puts on his device, takes off of his device, and who his contacts are. This was important to me since there are so many apps kids want to try out, and now he and I get to talk about what he’s interested in and why.

Here is how we set up this preteen’s iPod together.

1. We discussed time limits and their purpose. First I reviewed our Manage Family Media Plan to get myself in the right headspace. Then we talked about which apps were important to him and how long would be appropriate for each one, and all of them together. He wanted WAY more time than I thought was necessary and he felt strangled by my limit. It was good to find a middle we were both comfortable with. His device is shut down completely at his bedtime until 8am. I can temporarily extend the time if he requests it.

2. All contacts were considered. I do not allow my son to add his own contacts. Next year I’ll reconsider, but for now he’s still impressionable and I like letting him use me as the bad guy. He’s got the cousins who are his age, all grandparents, and then also his most important friends. We also talked about who we allow to have our contact information as well as who we like having in our contacts list and why.

3. App negotiation. Fun little games? Sure, but not all of them. TikTok? I’m on the fence. We allowed him to download it and I frequently ask him about what he’s been watching. He knows to come to me if there’s something inappropriate that pops up and we block and report the user profile. His app time is strictly limited and we’ve locked down his privacy settings. The other day he asked for Instagram, to which I said probably not. He didn’t have a reason, he just wanted it. Negotiations continue.

4. Enforcing the rules we set together for the iPod. When he doesn’t get his household responsibilities done or if he’s choosing to be on his device when he’s supposed to be eating dinner, all of the fun apps are shut down. We still allow his messages to come through, since he rarely gets any. But honestly, he gets better and better all of the time. He understands that the rules are flexible and we see his mature approach.

So as you can see, all things considered it went pretty smoothly. I felt calm and prepared, so he felt like he could trust my intentions. There have been a few hiccups, a couple of interactions that could have gone a lot better, but I look forward to helping him on his journey to responsible digital citizenship.
Tay Gudmundson | PR/Marketing Director, Digital Respons-Ability

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