Kids With Phones: Is it A Scary Combination?

I recently read an article about how parents are completely naive to how their kids are using social media and social apps on their phones. I later saw the article on my sister in law’s Facebook page, with commentary about how scared she was to ever allow her kids to have phones. I saw the same article in my stream again today with similar sentiments.

There is much discussion in parenting circles about when it is appropriate to allow your children to have a phone. Some parents allow children as young as 8-years old to have their own phone, while others wait until middle school or high school. We will be gifting Josh a phone for his 12th birthday in April, at which point four of our seven children will have cell phones.

While it certainly makes it easy during soccer season and when our teenagers are at home alone, it’s not always been easy having children with phones. I won’t pretend that we haven’t had more than our share of negative experiences with our kids and their phones. We have, however, found some great ways to safe guard our kids and we no longer stress so much over our children having phones. But it isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of vigilance on our part.

Here’s the thing, parents – If your kids are using tablets and computers, they will have the same access to most of the social networks that they can download on their phones. You have a plan in place to monitor what your child does on these devices, right? Create the same plan and rules for their phones.

Kids with Phones... Is it a scary combination? It doesn't have to be! | From Dates to Diapers

Not only can you use similar software to monitor, restrict, assess, and watch over everything your kids do online, but perhaps consider some of these additional safe-guards for your kids:

Perform random checks on your kids’ phones. If your kids do not yet have phones, begin with their tablets and laptops, so as to establish an expectation.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Giving them no chance to delete texts, history, photos, apps, etc, I will ask any one of our older children to unlock their phones, and they hand it over.
  • I ask them if they have anything they would like to tell me or discuss, so as to avoid any uncomfortable conversations should I discover something unsavory.
  • I will then spend some time browsing through the history on the web, in their apps, and even scan through their texts and photos.
  • We will have a discussion regarding anything I may have found, or I will praise them for a “clean” phone.
  • The phone is then returned.

Create a Device Charging Corner. Establish a rule that dictates that phones must be collected for certain periods of time during the day and each night for safe keeping. Just as you would not allow a tablet or laptop to come to the dinner table, or go to bed with your child, do not allow the phone at the table or in their rooms at night.

Allow some freedom. We do have software on our children’s phones that monitor the sites they visit, who they text and call, which apps they download, and more. We are alerted if they visit any sites we have flagged, or send or receive texts from certain people. However, they are not aware of this constant monitoring. While we do not block any sites or apps completely, we have made the call as their parents to give our kids the opportunity to make the right decisions. We often discuss our decisions, whether good or bad, with all of our children, so even in this context it is quite natural.

Discuss trends in social media. Being that I work in social media, I am often aware of networks, sites, and apps before my children are. HOWEVER, I often have conversations with my children about what is popular, where their friends hang out online, their favorite app and networks, and what is being discussed online. Following or friending your kids just isn’t enough anymore, but it is certainly not a bad idea. And, please be sure you talk to your kids about the dangers and signs of cyberbullying.

Don’t let the idea of your kids having phones scare you. I think the key here is building a relationship with your kids in every area of life. With devices – whether it’s a tablet, laptop, or cell phone – creating boundaries and establishing rules is super important.

Image of Child on Phone – © manaemedia / Dollar Photo Club

Pantry Refresh for the New Year

This last weekend, Ray and I attended a health and wellness summit and came away with some great tips and tricks to eating well and living better. I will be sure to share some of our best takeaways soon, but there was a session on ridding your pantry of foods that are not so great for us (more on that soon, I promise!) that inspired a pantry refresh.

Our pantry was pretty disorganized, so I didn’t think it’d be a quick process. I headed to my local Walmart and picked up some baskets that I was sure would make reorganizing our pantry an easier task. I first snagged the Better Homes and Gardens 2-piece Hyacinth basket set. I chose these particular baskets because of the cute little chalkboard on the front. It was a plus that the price point was within budget, at less than $20 for the two. I did also pick up another medium tiered basket, for three in all.

Pantry Refresh

The first thing we did was toss all of the empty boxes and packages that littered the shelves. I’m afraid several of my kiddos don’t understand the concept of throwing away the garbage. Ha! 

I placed all of the random bags of snacks in one of the larger baskets, rounded up the vegetables we keep in the pantry – onions, fresh garlic bulbs, and potatoes – and placed them in the other large basket, and all of the tea bags went in the small basket. Each basket was labeled, making it easy to find exactly what we need when we need it.

Veggies Basket

Is your pantry due for a refresh? Check out how my friend and fellow Walmart mom, Lynnae, organized her pantry with plastic storage shoeboxes and Duck Tape!

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Raspberry Banana Smoothie {Recipe}

We love smoothies around here, especially as an after school snack. This Raspberry Banana smoothie we found at Walmart.com has become a quick favorite!

Smoothies are not only healthy and nutritious, yummy and scrumptious, but they are so very easy to make. They can be made with most any fresh or frozen fruit or a variety of veggies. You can even sneak in vitamins, minerals, and supplements and the kids will be none the wiser.

The kids love to help mix up some fun combinations, too. We sometimes make green smoothies, but the kids think the pink ones are the best.

Raspberry Banana Smoothie Recipe | From Dates to Diapers

Raspberry Banana Smoothie with Splenda

For this pink smoothie you will need:

1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
4 packets SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener with Fiber (not necessary if you have sweet raspberries and overripe bananas!)
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Raspberry Banana Smoothie - what you need | From Dates to Diapers

Place your banana in the freezer for about 10 minutes or until slightly firm. I like to use frozen fruit, because it eliminates the need for ice. The raspberries we found at Walmart were perfect, so we placed them in the freezer for a bit, as well.

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides a few times. We will sometimes leave our smoothie a bit chunky, like pictured.

The kids like to enjoy their smoothies immediately. I like for mine to sit for a few minutes, so it’s not so thick.

Raspberries make the best smoothies | From Dates to Diapers

How do you like your smoothies? What is your favorite combination?

Find other great smoothie recipes and ideas at Walmart.com

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.