Dealing with rule-breaking

Getting help with rule-breaking behaviour

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3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child keeps removing the parental control I have installed

This can be frustrating for parents navigating the digital space. Try to remain calm and try to understand why your child is doing this. Is it because they want to be playing the same games as their peers? Is it out of curiosity, or are they testing boundaries?

Talk to your child about your family's screen routine and rules and use device management and parental controls to switch off access to WiFi and/or enforce boundaries. It’s important to explain in an age-appropriate way that the parental controls have been set up to protect you all from dangerous situations. Use a digital device contract and encourage a balance of activities away from technology. Using positive reinforcement for positive behaviours and modelling positive digital behaviours yourself may assist.

If your child is exhibiting continuous problematic and or defiant behaviour you may want to seek help from a child psychologist.

My child is chatting to people they are not supposed to online

This can be very concerning for parents. Try to remain calm, but act quickly to limit any potential risks.

Recommended approach:

  1. Find out how this came about - if your child has been pressured, coerced or chatted to people out of curiosity?
  2. Explain the danger to their safety and privacy, reiterating that we don’t speak to strangers online and that if they want to speak to someone, they need to know their first and last name, know them in person and ask you as their parent.
  3. Explain to your child in an age-appropriate way that this can be dangerous and can risk their safety/privacy.
  4. Check browsing/chat history and remove any shared information. If necessary, report illegal activity to authorities, and block accounts.
  5. Set up parental controls to manage your child’s online experiences so they cannot chat to strangers online and increase online supervision of your child.
  6. Continue to talk with your child about the experiences we want to have online (positive, entertainment, learning, keeping in touch only with people we know) and about the need to always be safe.
  7. If your child is distressed seek professional help.

My child is using their device to play games, etc., when they are supposed to be doing homework

While this can be frustrating for parents, try to remain calm and explain why this is not ok and that your child needs to utilise their devices appropriately, leaving games for times when the other jobs are done.

Explain to your child that your family has a screen routine and rules, and devices are only to be used for games during allotted times (e.g. on the weekends or after school work is done). Explain that this is because you want to make sure that they use their device for games sensibly and that it’s important that they focus properly on their homework without distractions.

It may seem obvious, but ask the reasons why they have been playing games when they are not supposed to, and check that the game is age-appropriate. If necessary block or restrict any games that are not age-appropriate, and reiterate the times they are allowed to access their games by using a digital device contract.

Use technology (parental controls/device management) to enforce your rules if necessary and help them stick to designated times by using a family calendar or schedule.

If your child continues to exhibit defiant behaviour you may like to speak to your child’s teacher or the school counsellor.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child keeps removing the parental control I have installed

This can be frustrating for parents navigating the digital space. Try to remain calm and find out the reasons your child may be doing this. Is it because they want to be involved in the same games as their peers? Are they testing boundaries or are they curious to see what happens?

Regardless of the reason, talk to your child about your family's rules around screen time and content access, and reiterate the rules around this. Consider parental controls that are more robust harder for your child to manipulate, such as Family Zone, to switch off access to WiFi and/or enforce boundaries.

It’s important to explain in an age-appropriate way that the parental controls have been set up to protect you all from dangerous situations. Use a digital device contract, and encourage a balance of activities away from technology. Using positive reinforcement for positive behaviours and modelling positive digital behaviours yourself may assist.

If your child is exhibiting continuous problematic and or defiant behaviour you may want to seek help from a child psychologist.

My child is chatting to people they are not supposed to online

This can be upsetting for parents, however, it is important to try to stay calm and find out why and how this has happened. Chatting to strangers is not recommended at this age and your child may be doing it out of curiosity or they may not be aware of the dangers that come with speaking to people they don't know online.

Calmly explain to your child that we have tech rules to keep us all safe from dangers, and these include not chatting to strangers online. You will need to check browsing/chat history and remove any shared information and block and delete any inappropriate accounts.

If necessary, report illegal behaviour to authorities, or report to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner here. Then use parental controls/device management to enforce your rules.

If your child feels they are missing out on experiences that their peers are having (e.g. games and online communication), seek to find other ways to fill these gaps, or find age-appropriate online games with safety restrictions that they can play. Then increase online supervision of your child.

If your child is exhibiting worrying behaviour you may like to speak to your child’s teacher or the school counsellor.

My child is using their device to play games, etc., when they are supposed to be doing homework

Your child may be testing boundaries by bending the rules, and while this can be frustrating, try to remain calm and explain why this behaviour is not ok and reiterate the rules in your household when it comes to screen time use. Explain that this is because you want to make sure that they use their device for games sensibly and that it’s important that they focus properly on their homework without distractions.

Try to find out why they have been playing games when they are not supposed to (e.g. is there peer influence) and check that the game is age-appropriate.

If necessary block/restrict any games that are not age-appropriate. Use technology (parental controls/device management) to enforce your rules and help them stick to designated times, and consider using a digital agreement to set the expectation for their use.

If your child continues to exhibit defiant behaviour you may like to speak to your child’s teacher or the school counsellor.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child keeps removing the parental control I have installed

At this age, your child may want more independence when it comes to their digital life, or may be feeling left out of online games or social media activities amongst their peer group and will test boundaries in order to feel included or satisfy their curiosity.

While this is frustrating for parents, it's important to stay calm and find out why they’re doing this. Explain that your family rules include screen routines and boundaries that have been set up to protect you all from dangerous situations or exposure to harmful or inappropriate content. While this may be difficult, continue to use device management and parental controls to switch off access to WiFi and/or enforce boundaries.

Encouraging balanced activities away from technology, using positive reinforcement for positive behaviours, and modelling positive digital behaviours yourself may assist. Regular conversations about positive online behaviours are helpful and make sure to make use of behavioural opportunities and consequences to influence behaviour change.

If your child is exhibiting continuous problematic and/or defiant behaviour you should seek help from a psychologist.

My child is chatting to people they are not supposed to online

At this age, your child is going to want to explore online friendships and may be heavily influenced by what their peers are doing. They will also push back on boundaries and seek more independence in their online lives, talking to strangers as a result.

Most platforms require the child to be at least 13 years of age to participate in open chatting, however, you need to make the decision based on your child’s maturity and your family rules.

Recommended approach:

  1. Check their browsing/chat history to see if they have compromised their privacy or shared/received inappropriate content. If you suspect your child has been contacted for grooming purposes you need to report this to authorities and to the platform.
  2. If your decision is to restrict/block access to that platform, then do so and use parental controls to block/restrict/monitor your child’s activity. If you opt to let them use the account, ensure that you have full access and are actively supervising their use by using family linking tools.
  3. It's critical to explain your reasoning and decision to your child, as having an open conversation will build trust in the future.
  4. If your child is feeling excluded from peer interactions seek other ways to fill in those gaps or find ways to compromise without risking safety/privacy.
  5. If your child is distressed seek help from the school counsellor.

My child is using their device to play games, etc., when they are supposed to be doing homework

At this stage, your child will likely test boundaries and may be more prone to peer influence. Try to stay calm and explain why this behaviour is not ok and that you need them to cooperate with your request to not be playing games when they should be doing their homework.

Support healthy use of screens, however, reiterate that playtime comes after homework. Ask them about their thoughts on this and review your tech routine and rules together, asking them for input too.

Respectfully check what they have been doing on their device by searching through the history, and if necessary, blocking/restricting games that are not age-appropriate. This can cause conflict as they may see this as an invasion of privacy, however, it is important to discuss with your child that your role to keep them safe is your priority.

Use technology (parental controls/device management) to enforce your rules, however, stay open to compromise, and ensure your child feels they have a voice in the conversation. Regular conversations about the importance of establishing healthy and safe technology habits are critical as your child is maturing into becoming a teenager.

If your child continues to exhibit defiant behaviour seek help from the school counsellor or a psychologist.

My child keeps removing the parental control I have installed

At this stage, your teen is likely to be heavily influenced by their peer groups and may feel the fear of missing out in a competitive online environment.

As your teen is nearing adulthood it is critical to empower your teen with critical thinking skills in order to responsibly assess their use of online platforms.

Encouraging relationships and activities away from technology is helpful, as well as positive role modelling and using positive reinforcement for good behaviours. Regular conversations about family expectations and why they exist, as well as discussions on positive online behaviours, and using examples of how this positively impacted people they know, may help to promote their confidence to make positive choices.

At this age, parental control tools are not particularly effective and may cause more friction within your relationship with your child. If you do choose to use device management to switch off access to WiFi, for example, you should do this in consultation with your teen and reframe the concept, showcasing the value of control tools as a way to help teach them strategies around self-regulation. For example, "Let's switch off access to certain platforms while you’re studying to help avoid distractions." 

If your teen is struggling with controlling their use of technology then seek help from the school or a psychologist.

My child is sneaking their device overnight

At this stage, the best approach is a collaborative one that arms your teen with the tools to behave responsibly around technology while respecting your concerns for their safety and wellbeing.

Recommended approach:

  1. Seek to find out what your teen has been doing on their devices overnight, you may choose to respectfully ask them to show you that it is age-appropriate and that they have not risked their privacy or shared inappropriate content.
  2. Take a collaborative approach to work out what works best in your home, you may need to compromise on your rules somewhat.
  3. Explain that your concern is for their wellbeing, that excessive use of devices can damage sleep, concentration, and ability to perform at best, and that it can lead to addictive and unhealthy screen habits. Talk about the fact that social responsibility and expectation with friends online can negatively impact wellbeing, and ask how they ultimately want to use technology, and what their goals are.
  4. If you choose to use parental controls to help your teen stick to a routine then do so with their permission, e.g. "Let’s use technology to help you stick to a screen routine that helps you study, stay healthy and stay focused on your goals."
  5. If you feel that your teen is struggling talk to them about where they can go for help.

My child is chatting to people they are not supposed to online

As your teen is nearing adulthood, it is critical to arm them with the tools to behave responsibly online and how to navigate negative online interactions. The majority of teens are developmentally ready to have interactions with people they don’t know online, as long as they think critically and engage some safety parameters.

You should have an open conversation with your teen about their online life, your concerns and boundaries that are important to you. Talk about how people they know may have overshared online, and the ways in which this has affected them. Ask your child how and what signs they'd recognise if a stranger had inappropriate motives, and what they'd do about it.

If your decision is to not allow them access to open chatting because of specific reasons (e.g. if you aren’t sure they are emotionally ready for the responsibility or they have an intellectual disability that may make them more vulnerable) then you need to calmly explain your reasoning and, if possible, offer a compromise or access to other activities and social interactions to combat exclusion.

My child is using their device to play games, etc., when they are supposed to be doing homework

The best approach is a collaborative one that arms your teen with the tools to behave responsibly around technology while respecting your concerns for their wellbeing and education.

Recommended approach:

  1. Seek to find out what games your teen has been playing and why they’re avoiding homework. You should make sure that they have not risked their privacy or shared inappropriate content whilst gaming.
  2. Take a collaborative approach to work out what works best in your home. You may need to compromise on your rules. Have an open discussion on how playing games versus doing homework helps them achieve their longer term goals.
  3. Explain that your concern is for their wellbeing, that excessive gaming can damage sleep, relationships, concentration, and the ability to perform at best. That it can, in extreme cases, lead to addictive and unhealthy screen habits that can have long term impacts. Talk about how they want to use technology, and what their goals are personally and academically.
  4. If you choose to use parental controls to help your teen stick to a routine then do so with their permission, e.g. to help them stick to a screen routine that helps with studying effectively and maintaining focus in important years.
  5. If your teen is struggling or you suspect they have a gaming addiction seek professional help.