My 11 yo ds has recently discovered SKYPE and he and his buddies from school want to be on it a lot. I am trying to set up boundaries. He is at a small private school here in EUrope and has been quite sheltered up to this point. He seems to be maturing very fast these days. He has a big crush on a cute little girl in his class and asked her to be his "girlfriend". It is all very innocnent, I believe, but it is difficult to set the boundaries. It is hard when he says "my friends are all on skype waiting for me" to not let him feel included. His group of friends are all very nice children, and Im glad he's doing well socially as he had a very difficult time and was bullied when we first arrived here. Im interested to hear others "rules" regarding this as well as experiences. I did find out some of the other mums who have children in his class aren't allowing it...
Is it interfering with meals, homework, chores ect?
but everything has pros and cons
I guess I see this near having a cell phone, texting etc. I suppose Im just moving into a different age period, but I am concerned as to the amount of time he spends "chatting" and our family time. also, all this technology is driving me a bit insane. ;( If it were up to me we'd be TV free and not even have a computer, although I know that is a bit impractical
As long as the computer is in a visible place I wouldn't have a problem with it. I wouldn't be okay with my preteens using Skype with a webcam in a private room but as long as I could see if I wanted to, I would be okay with it. I don't hover over my kids when they do this kind of thing but I do like to keep it out in the open. Even good kids can experiment with some foolish and dangerous behaviour when they are in a group and standing up to your peers can be hard.
You can set up whatever boundaries you feel comfortable with, just as you would with the phone or being over at a friend's house or whatever. You might say that he is free to use it for 30 minutes or an hour after supper or before supper or something but that is all. Kids like to test limits but can usually live with them when they are reasonable.
My son (13) can use skype if he has finished his homework. Our computer is in our office so while he has privacy, I can also hear what is going on. DS does not use it a lot. Like facebook, he lost interest after awhile and does not use it a lot.
I am glad to know the bullying problem is better lukesmom!
My kids are not allowed to communicate electronically with people that they don't know in real life, and we've had very frank conversations about why. They understand.
We've also had very frank conversations about why taking photos of one's self naked and transmitting them is a very bad idea. Again, they understand why.
Technology is here to stay. Rather than keeping my teens away from it, I see it as my job to teach them use it wisely.
I remember your posts from when your son was being bullied, and I'm VERY glad to hear that it isn't a problem now.
I also think that balancing family time with peer time is a common issue at this stage. I think it's great to carve out some family, meals and a family fun activity on the weekend, for example, but that allowing our kids to enjoy their peers at other times is part of helping them still enjoy us. The bottom line is we are building the kind of relationship that we will have with them when they are adults. If we make this phase about "you can't be with your friends because I said so because I want family time" then the minute it is their choice, they will bolt. Setting reasonable, respectful boundaries where the have both time with us and time with peers leaves them free to actually enjoy the time they have with us, and choose to still have it when we can no longer force them.
but everything has pros and cons
Thank you all so much....Im feeling much better. We had a talk today and he "gets it". Its just all new and I am a bit protective after the bullying.
Thanks also for all who remember and supported me through that. It was one of the most emotional times of my life. In the end, the school made a stand and he felt "seen" He still has problems at time with that boy, but he has made new friends and this has brought him more confidence. So, while the situation was addressed FIRMLY, he is no longer the "willing victim" either. He has walked away.
I have a daughter too!! The name LukesMUm was chosen 12 years ago when I first came to MDC!!
Glad you're feeling better!
My kids (8 and 10) love to Skype. But, they have some specific rules to follow.
1. Computer is only used in the kitchen (center of house, very open)
2. All Skype "friends" have to be approved by me.
The kids began Skyping with family and my 10 yo now chats with a couple of friends too.
We are in a very similar situation (small international school, bullied child, same age, etc.). At the beginning of the year my daughter wanted to be on Skype. She had homeschooled the previous year and was starting out at this school and I wanted to give her a chance to be like the other kids. I never felt comfortable with it.
What I found was that my daughter was looking for a level of connection that she just could not get on Skype. One-liners, see ya laters after only a few minutes, kids not answering. She seemed addicted to trying to get that connection, though. A lot of times the things the other kids would write in their little bubbles was disturbing to me (things like, "I hate my life," written by a wealthy and very privileged girl, or rumor-type things). Other times there was downright rudeness. I was actually relieved when I saw that my daughter had had a long, silly, but over-the-top rude conversation with another girl. I decided it was a good moment to pull the plug and I'm so glad I did. My daughter stopped having that compulsive behavior and has been fine with not Skyping, save for a few special occasions.
I'm also disturbed by how often those kids are on there. If you school is anything like ours, the kids could use a lot more parenting.
I think I'd rather see my kids skype than text -- at least with skype they see each other and they're having a more or less real conversation. Texting is much more private and harder to monitor, and I'm not sure it's great for developing conversational skills. (I have no data to back this up, but it's my gut feeling that texting isn't really 'conversation' in the same way.) Skype feels to me like phone conversations with pictures. How much time did you spend on the phone as a pre-teen/teen?
I think others have great ideas about limits -- after homework, in visible areas, only with people you know in real life, and to remember that anyone could be recording this, so don't do anything you don't want put up on YouTube the next day!
All 3 of my girls aged 18, 13, and 9 have skype accounts but the computer is ALWAYS in a public place that anyone can view and all skype friends are approved by me. As well, I have their passwords to all their accounts, including skype and we first set up the accounts together. I don't go snooping around, but if I see fit, I will.