Knowing when to say yes to that app

Knowing when to say yes to that app

I've known Galit Breen since we met at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop several years ago and I've shared her writing about parenting a tween daughter and teaching kids about kindness online here before. I really value her unique perspective as a mom, an educator, and author.

She is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple, no-nonsense guide to keeping our kids safe online, and the TEDx Talk, Raising A Digital Kid Without Ever Having Been One. She's here to help you keep app overwhelm at bay.


It’s not a secret that there is so much to consider when we let our kids get phones.

Some of the top worries include:

  • Who they are following
  • Who is following them
  • Who they are texting
  • What they are texting
  • Will they be bullied
  • Will they click into something that they are not supposed to
  • And so much more

But I think at the top of many of our worry lists is apps. It’s hard to keep up with all of the new apps that our kids are interested in, much less with the ins and outs of each one of them!

And yet, when our kids ask us about trying out new apps, it feels tricky to say, “no” just because we’re not sure what the app does (and doesn’t!) do!

I want to share with you a system that we use at our house that has helped us with this tremendously. It’s called “Convince Me” and it may be my favorite parenting “hack,” possibly ever.

We use this system every single time one of our kids comes to us asking to try something that my husband and I aren’t quite ready to say, “yes” to.

This includes:

  • Getting a phone
  • Texting someone who we don’t know (like a new friend who we haven’t met yet)
  • Going from a private to a public account
  • Following public accounts (like celebrities and brands)
  • And trying out new apps

I’m going to focus on that last one in the list—apps—because it happens so often! So when our kids come to us and ask to use an app that we’ve either heard bad things about or we don’t use so we don’t know enough about to immediately say, “yes,” we revert to “Convince Me.”

The basic idea is that we put the responsibility back on our kids to research the ins and outs of the app and come back to us to “Convince Us” that it’s a good idea to say that they may try it.

They are responsible for coming back to us with:

  • The app age restrictions
  • Why they think the age restrictions are in place
  • The app privacy setting options
  • How their friends are using it
  • How they want to use it
  • What there is to watch out for with it
  • Their plan for how to make good choices with the app
  • And their plan for how they will check in with us and show us how the app use is going

This system has worked so well for us! I love that we’re modeling for our kids how important it is to take time to research and learn about apps before diving into them and how important it is to have a plan for how to use them.

This is one small (but great!) change has really helped our family handle the overwhelm around apps, and I hope that it may help you as well.

I’ve created a beautiful, printable checklist for you and your kids to use so that you can put “Convince Me” into practice today. Get your FREE checklist here.

Letting our kids use apps doesn’t have to be filled with knee-jerk reactions and worry-filled decision making. Having a system that works in place takes the stress out of asks for new apps. You’ll know how to answer the “can I have this” question, what steps to take to make a wise decision, and your kids will, too. You’ll be working toward your goal of raising a safe digital kid one app at a time.


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