I discovered my daughter has been using her phone inappropriately. What do I do?
The short answer: Take it away! Inappropriate actions on a device need to be dealt with immediately. Technology has made it so easy for kids to engage in dangerous behavior that can go unnoticed by parents. Chat rooms and social media provide exposure to bullying and meeting strangers. Pornography is abundant. Personal photos can be exploited. Demonstrating maturity should be required to earn the privilege of using technology.
Inappropriate actions on a device need to be dealt with immediately.
If your daughter needs to be able to call you, I would suggest an app such as AppLock. This allows messaging and apps to be locked down while restricting the phone to making and receiving calls. Other options would be push-to-talk devices like the Relay or phones that only allow phone calls.
Seek wise counsel from a pastor or trusted friend to address the inappropriate behavior. Set family boundaries on the use of technology, like when, where, and how it can be used. If accountability has not been taught, start by allowing monitored use of the device in the home. Put accountability software in place and review the reports regularly with her to help train the heart toward making responsible decisions. It will open up wonderful opportunities for dialogue!
Begin the process of rebuilding trust again while giving her tools to be successful!
“Ask Ali” is an op-ed column answering common questions about accountability and related topics.