Tech savvy parent helping his children
The Tech Savvy Parent title
Brian Housman author
Leading and loving with technology text

Too often we think of leadership through a narrow lens of qualities such as strength, perseverance, and character. When we do this as parents, we miss some of the traits that get little fanfare or recognition. Two traits of great leadership for the tech savvy parent are planning and protecting.


You can most assuredly plan to fail if you fail to plan. That may be a tongue twister, but consider what this looks like when it comes to the screens in your child’s life. According to Common Sense Media:

  • Teenagers now spend nine hours each day in front of media.
  • Children from ages eight to twelve spend six hours per day in front of media.
  • Typical teenagers now spend two hours every day of their lives just using social media.

Nielson Research reports that the average teen sends 3,000+ text messages every month. An alarming new study from Influence Central finds that the typical child now receives his or her first smartphone at the age of ten!

Media, whether entertainment or social, is going to be a part of your child’s daily life, but too much, too soon can have serious repercussions on your child’s mental, emotional, and physical health. You need to have a media plan before your child subscribes to Xbox Live, downloads TikTok, or starts streaming their life on YouTube. None of these things in and of itself is inherently bad; rather, it is the all-consuming nature of them that can flip a switch in how your child perceives their own value. Here are a few tips to limit their exposure:

  1. Set time of day boundaries for media. Shut down all media at a certain time before bedtime. Don’t let them jump on it the first thing in the morning.
  2. Make media and cell phones both a privilege and responsibility. Look at these as an issue of maturity, not a set age. It may be different for each of your children, as it was mine.
  3. Do your due diligence before saying yes. Ask your child why they feel they need a particular app, game, platform, etc. Find out potential dangers with each.
Quote: Protection is rooted in love. Protection is not the same as managing, or trying to fix, your child's every action

The second key to leading with technology is to protect. Research from the CDC states that more than one-third of all children on social media have been cyberbullied, and 70% have bullied someone else, yet only nine percent of parents are concerned that it will happen to their child. That is a huge difference between the adult world our children are living in and the LEGO/Barbie doll world we think our children are still in. A study from the Center to Prevent Teen Pregnancy reported that 40% of all teens on social media admit to having sexual conversations; 25% are having intimate sexual conversations with complete strangers.

I know these numbers can and should be frightening, which is why your child needs you. Two things regarding protection you should always remember: One, your children desire for you to protect them, even into adolescence. It is part of how they are wired. When they feel overwhelmed or trapped by a situation, they need to know that you are there to help, without judgment. Two, protection is rooted in love. Protection is not the same as managing, or trying to fix, your child’s every action. When my children were younger they regularly heard me say, “My job is to protect your heart and mind.” You can’t do that if you aren’t aware of what is happening on their screens and in their social lives. Here are a few tips to help protect your child’s tech life:

  1. Monitor without managing. When your child first ventures onto social media, consider using a monitoring app such as Bark, Qustodio, Net Nanny, or Family Time. These can provide reasonable accountability as they get started.
Student on their phone
  1. Connect together on social media. If your child is going to be on social media, then you should be on the same platform.
  2. Create time and space to unplug. Help your child learn the value of “going off the grid” for a bit each day. This will help them to see their identity apart from their video game avatar or social media IQ.

As a parent, you lead by both planning and protecting your children when it comes to technology. By creating boundaries, setting limits, and evaluating the choices, you’ll help your children learn how to use media responsibly.


rian Housman has had the privilege of speaking at more than 200 parenting conferences from coast to coast and internationally. He is the author of Tech Savvy Parenting and Engaging Your Teen’s World. Brian and his wife Mona have been married for twenty-one years and have two teenagers, Bailey and Ashlan. Get daily parenting tips from him on Twitter at @bwhousman.