Parenting in the Digital Age

Momservation: Unless that electronic device or social media is making you money, it doesn’t deserve all the attention you’re giving it.

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photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

On Wednesday I’m speaking to the Carmichael Kiwanis Club. My host for the event, Donna, let me know that the demographic would trend to grandparents.

Great way to kick off my speaking tour: Grandparents love me! Next to moms ages 25-50, they are my biggest fan base.

When Donna asked me what I would be speaking about, that is what gave me pause. Because anyone who knows me (or reads my Momservations® column and blog) knows I can talk about ANYTHING. And if you ask Hubby he will point out that getting me to STOP TALKING is the greater challenge.

So when I realized I would only have 20 minutes, I tried to think of the best use of my time for my audience. (BTW, my kids were horrified to learn I would speak for that long—in their digital age six-second attention spans, not only would 20 minutes be an excruciating amount of time to do public speaking, it’s an unbearable amount of time to have to listen to someone.)

And my first thought was: Boy how times have changed! Parenting must have been so easy before cell phones, internet, around the clock cable, video games and computers.

When I told Donna I would speaking about parenting in the digital age she said, “Ooooooh yes, that sounds fabulous!”

So here we to…

Besides the obvious changes in technology—a little more on TV than what ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS have to offer or the need for a twenty-foot phone cord for talking privacy—the basic rules of parenting still apply:

  • Supervision
  • Boundaries
  • Trust=Reward, Defiance=Consequences
  • Open communication
  • Mutual respect
  • Be a good role model
  • Love
  • Guidance
  • Support

Whether you raised kids in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s or now in the twenty-first century, it’s the same game: You’re trying to love, protect, and nurture your kids into likable, functioning, responsible, happy adults.

It’s the playing field that’s changed.

So with a new playing field comes new rules of engagement.

These are the rules we use in my house with my 13 year-old daughter and 14 year-old son when technology comes into play (Which is pretty much always. We are surrounded—time to mount a defense.)


Rules of Engagement

  1.  First respect yourself. Respect others. Always. If you do this, all other rules are pretty well covered.
  2. Be present. Life moves too fast to not be a part of it. If you’ve got your nose in your phone texting, posting a status update, or checking your selfie Likes you are actually missing the moment and the true value of the experience. You can’t get it back. Experience life fully not virtually.
  3. Remember the Mom Test. If you wouldn’t say it, do it, or suggest it with Moms standing next to you—think twice before you post or hit send.
  4. Manage your time well. Everything in moderation. If it starts taking precedence over things worth giving your time to like school, extra-curricular activities, physical relationships, or getting outdoors and doing physical activities—it’s time to re-evaluate priorities.
  5. No phones at the table. Whether at home or in a restaurant, it’s rude to the company you’re with. Civilized people make eye contact and interact.
  6. When someone is talking to you, they take priority over your electronic. Look away from the computer screen, put the phone down, the controller, the remote, the whatever and quit being rude.
  7. First do no harm. Social media is to be used for good not evil.
  8.  Be a leader not a follower. Set the bar high and associate with the people who can compete. Avoid those who just want to see how low they can go.
  9. Be smart. Make smart choices. Make smart purchases. Make smart downloads. Watch smart television. Post smart content. Don’t be an idiot. A mistake on the internet can haunt you forever and is there for the world to see and judge.
  10. Cool it with the selfies. Nothing says narcissism, low self-esteem, and fishing for compliments like constantly posting pictures of yourself in search of Likes.
  11. Respect privacy. Don’t read over people’s shoulders, don’t try to memorize their passwords, don’t sneak their phones and change profile info or pretend to be them—you think it’s funny but it’s not. It’s a violation of trust. And so is secretly reading someone else’s text or emails—which is just creepy and an obvious personality flaw.
  12. Never. Ever. Text and drive. There is nothing so important on that phone that is worth your life.


For Rules of Engagement for smart phone usage click here to read If I Find Out You Did It You Quit It


  1. Guy Blair says:

    Kelli ~ I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at the meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael this morning. You gave us all sound principles for parenting our kids and grandkids in the digital age. I am going to recommend to our Women’s Ministry at my church to invite you come as a guest speaker at one of their programs. Thank you for being a positive force in our community.

    Guy Blair, Lt. Governor
    Kiwanis Division 44

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thank you, Guy! I really appreciate that and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. I also am so happy that you followed up and checked out! And double-bonus: that you enjoyed my presentation enough to pass on the good word! Since my next upcoming book, AND A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM: FROM UNTHINKABLE TRAGEDY TO UNEXPECTED FAITH, is a spirtual memoir I would be so pleased to reach out to your Women’s Ministry as well.
      It was a pleasure meeting you, Guy, and it was wonderful for me as well to see the behind the scences work of the Carmichael Kiwanis and your positive contributions to our community!
      Enjoy the journey!

  2. Alisa says:

    I came across your blog from, and I just wnated to tell you how great it is! You’re a great writer, and as a new stay at home mom who has just recently discovered the whole blogging thing, I will continue to follow it. Shannon (

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