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The Last Step of Tech in Steps

Words by
Jackie Baucom

APR 12, 2024

The Last Step of Tech in Steps

From school to work, technology is deeply entrenched into every facet of our lives. Businesses rely on social media for marketing, and homework assignments often require some Google research. 

Our usage of tech has become an essential skill, especially for the younger generation. While concerns about the adverse effects of excessive screen time and digital dependence persist, it’s important to foster a healthy relationship between adolescents and technology to facilitate their transition into adulthood. 

This can be successfully done through the usage of safe devices, software, and education. At Gabb, we have poured hours into research to bring parents the best content with facts backed by studies, so families can be well informed as they make important decisions surrounding tech and our children’s well-being.

Tech in Steps

We’ve previously introduced Tech in Steps — a progressive approach helping children and teens embark on a gradual journey through technology by providing them with appropriate devices for their age and maturity. Gabb Watch 3 is perfect for younger kids, while Gabb Phone 3 Pro is designed with older kids and teens in mind, giving them more freedom and flexibility.

Now, allow us to introduce you to the last step of Tech in Steps, where we equip teens with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the digital world confidently and responsibly as they enter adulthood.

Should Teens Have Unrestricted Access to Smartphones?

Gabb has always been vocal about protecting kids with age appropriate devices, while keeping them off social media. And research supports this idea. Many studies have found that social media usage at a young age increases the risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, cyberbullying, exposure to explicit content, and sleep disturbances. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has also called attention to the current loneliness epidemic and attributed it to social media usage.

We are now seeing the harmful side effects of social media on mental health. Combating these dangers is why Gabb was started in the first place. Our devices are designed to grow with kids, giving them more access and freedom as they mature.

Being realistic, we know the day will come where our kids will need to use social media and the unrestricted internet, especially for work. Some experts say to delay usage until age 16 or age 18. Each family knows what’s best for their kids.

Advice for Parents

As parents we can teach our children to effectively and safely use the internet and, when the time is right, social platforms while still living at home. This provides them with support and supervision from loved ones close by before the move out. A teen who goes from zero to everything-on-the-internet when they move out is likely to be overwhelmed.

The acronym, SAFETY, can be used as a simple guide and reminder as your child begins to transition toward full adult access to online devices and platforms.

Teach Teens Online Safety

Settings

Familiarize yourself with privacy and security settings on devices, as well as accounts. As kids get older, they will learn to turn certain settings on and off, but it’s important to teach them to do so while keeping their safety and needs in mind.

Awareness

Don’t be afraid of discussing with them the potential risks and dangers they may encounter online. Bring awareness to these topics so they can be prepared.

Friendship

Advise your children to choose online friends wisely. We often say to only talk with friends they know in real life, but as they get older they may have to communicate with “strangers” for work or a school assignment. Teach them to be cautious by verifying names, emails, and never sharing too much personal information.

Empathy

Show empathy towards others so your kids can learn from your example. Help them practice kindness, and remind them that manners still matter in online interactions. Behind every screen is a real person with real feelings.

Think

Teach kids to think critically before sharing personal information or engaging in online activities. Encourage them to question, analyze, and evaluate information from various sources to develop these critical thinking skills.

Your Voice

There’s a lot of bad in the world, but there’s also so much good. Our kids can become positive influences by using their voice responsibly and optimistically. Foster the idea of sharing goodness and spreading kindness, in-person and online.

Conversation is Key

Continue to have conversations about appropriate internet usage. Kids need to know about the dangers they may encounter online, such as, pornography, hate speech, biased views, cyberbullying, and scams. Once they know what to look out for, they can be prepared for what’s ahead. 

These conversations are tough, and can be awkward. But they are crucial. Pushing through any uncomfortable feelings will be worth it. It may help to chat in the car where eye contact is minimal, allowing kids some space to talk without feeling pressured. Ask them what they already know about the dangers of the internet, and go from there. These conversations will continue throughout the years. 

mother and daughter smiling looking at cellphone smiling

Keep up with tech news and have family discussions about the latest trends. By making this topic a part of our everyday conversations, kids will become comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings about their online lives. 

Don’t forget to give yourself some grace. Raising kids is hard. Raising good, kind, and knowledgeable kids is even harder. We are all trying our best. Put time and love into your relationships and watch your kids thrive into adulthood.

Do you have adult kids? What advice do you have for parents of younger kids raising them in a world inundated with tech? Tell us in the comments.

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