This is the first post by our new dad blogger, Mitch Chaitin. Mitch is a SAHD, who with his partner Peter, is raising an NYC public school 4th grader. He writes about parenting, adoption, and do product reviews and giveaways at his blog gaynycdad.com – where is son helps him too!
I know I have to monitor everything he does all the time. After all, I am a blogger, I read about this stuff all the time. And yet, I did not monitor his every move.
He was given an iPod for his birthday. On a separate note, we felt he had to get this tech as all of his cousins received a similar device for Christmas. I do feel pressure to keep up with the “Joneses” so to speak. Also, I otherwise would hear about it from him every 5 minutes, except when he is asleep, and then it is only every hour!
I thought I was a cool dad and I set his iPod up with his other dads email account. The dad who only uses a computer at work. He knows nothing about the digital world. I was offering some freedom; I suppose to see how it would work out, or to see if they all needed to come back under my control!
Quite quickly passwords were forgotten. I changed the account on my son’s iPod to my own iTunes account. And here’s the twist, I am not that savvy, tech wise. We had to go to the Apple store to have the master account changed, and then I had to ask for my personal email account that is attached, to be blocked. That’s why this article is for the masses, most of the tech world knows how to do this, I did not. To all the other parents out there, know your options, what you can block, and how you can monitor your children’s electronic behavior. I am on the uphill version of this learning curve, a learning curve we cannot ignore, one we must all be on in this digital age.
Quickly my first mistake was pointed out to me. When I originally gave him the iPod, he had no money to buy any apps. Why did I think that this was enough to keep him safe? I found an app on his iPod that was all about guns and shooting bullets. I know he craves these types of game play; after all he is a boy’s boy. But I found this to be taking things too far. I had him delete it from his account and reminded him that this level of game violence was still beyond what I would allow for him.
So after my first lesson in monitoring my son’s tech usage, let’s hope I have learned something. He now has to have me approve every new app, free or not free. I have to put in my secret iTunes password. It is no longer about free vs. paid apps, it is about me needing to monitor every app he tries to put into his iPod. This also means I ask what app I am approving, how easy is it for us to just put in the password because we are too busy to check first.
I thought I could let him have free choice. I was wrong, and needed to let him know that we do these things together for his safety. And this is just the beginning.