I have an interesting issue. We have two new kids that have come to us with tablets. Normally, we would give children of this age tablets (7 and 11). These tablets would have parental controls, and while new kids wouldn't like it they accept it as the price of having access to the tablets.

However these kids have come with their own tablets, and we don't want to take them away. So we have these issues.

  • We need the parental controls installed
  • The kids have not had them before are are accessing age inappropriate content, but without understanding why it's inappropriate
  • They will not like when they parental controls are used for "behavior" issues like bed times and time outs.
  • We don't want to just take the tablets away

For the record the type of parental controls that we use are:

  • Bedtime the tablets turn off. And don't work till morning
  • Content restrictions - Though based off ESRB and the like we can bypass (and sometimes do) for certain circumstances (like Spotify is allowed even though it's content rating is "Teen")
    • These restrictions make them ask before installing any applications or games. Though we always try to say yes, sometimes it's lead to conversations about why the answer is no.
  • Time out - A careful one, but "I need you to do your homework after this level" that turns into an all out war, Time out (from the tablet) becomes are "go to" option. "Ok, I said that you need to start on your homework after that level, but you wanted to fight about it, so untill you can show us that you can, no tablets after school till your homework is done." - I hope that example helps explain it.
  • Usage restrictions. Like if you used your tablet for more then 5 hours today, then it's time to do something else. We set this limit quite high, as tablets include a lot of things. But there is a point where it's time to put down the tablet and get some excersize or something. Honestly we try to make sure there is enough to do that this limit can't be reached, but it's a good safety net.

Lastly, as an example of are inappropriate content, the eldest is 11 and likes to play and watch others play GTA, because it's fun to beat up the hookers. While I am not really one for censorship, this is a good example of an area that I think I need to gain some control in. I get that the limits need to be flexible, but there is some content that is just over the lines for their age range.

How can we help them understand why the parental controls are needed, without coming off like we are trying to take "everything" away? I know we are taking some things away, and some of it they won't understand or like.

2 Answers 2


I am hoping this might help though you do have to adapt it to each child and some children embrace this idea much easier than others, but my approach with kids is in trying to teach and to a kid this is new to, that needs an explanation. My general explanation is what you need to tweak per kid. I keep it as simple & short as I can. I start with an idea like

When you eat healthy food, do I get healthier? When you get exercise, do I get into shape? If you learn something cool, do I automatically now know it too? Well then, I need you to understand that the things I want for you are for you and because I care about you having a good life. I can eat healthy food myself, get exercise, learn new things all on my own. What I do with those things benefits me. Likewise, what you do is for you. It's not to please me, or any other grown up. We don't want you do "do these things", we want you to be healthy and strong and building the best life you can for you.

This concept is lost completely on kids most of the time if they don't have someone helping them to remember that me getting on them to remember to brush teeth isn't helping to prevent me from getting cavities.

You can think about whether my next thing is anything you are comfortable with (if not, obviously ignore) but I write the rules with my kids. Instead of dictating the rules, we have a talk, and I ask questions to sort of prod if we are missing something. So I might ask what they think about touching other people's things without asking. The way we live though, these are rules everyone lives by, so be careful the rules you make if you go this route. If I agree we don't touch people's tings without permission, it also means I do not touch your things without permission. Exclusion apply obviously, like laundry. But this works well for me. Children that are new to you are often feeling rather powerless and even if you have core rules you keep and go over before you can allow them to add rules or help set them up.

And not that you need me to say it, but I think you are right on the controls. We use them too. I would not at all feel comfortable with a boy that age playing that game. I also understand your hesitation on how to approach as you don't want to be seen as enemy. If it's within your budget, perhaps you can offer a trade off like buying him an inexpensive app or two or telling him he can have x amount of apps you are willing to install. And empathize. You have to say that you know this likely isn't anything he likes. You have to let him know you are aware that even if it's for his benefit, it's okay that he won't like the change. Change really sucks sometimes, and is hard at first, but after you adjust, you often will see it wasn't nearly as bad as it seemed initially. And if you can handle it mentally/emotionally without getting hurt, you can offer to allow him to vent. You can tell him it's okay for him to say what he wants to say about how he is feeling about this change. It won't change your decision, but it allows him to feel heard, particularly if at that point you stop explaining and simply stick to telling him you can understand why he'd feel that way about it, etc.

Also in case it helps, if you don't know, Five Nights At Freddies is popular among this age group in boys. It's gory, but I have read the books. Despite the gore, it's pretty overall better than something like the game you mentioned. If you don't mind skim reading you would get the idea. But you can download the books (the game is a horror game, I hate it personally) and my son loves to read them. If that is a type of compromise you might be open to, that can be part of the offering up something while taking something away. It's not as great as getting him to read Narnia, but less culture shock as a trade off for a game of that nature.


I have five bio kids and adopted two kids that were slightly older then my youngest. The kids arrived from another foster home with some additional technology that my bio kids did not have.

Our bottom line was, new additions to the home do not change the rules of the home. If you believe your rules are healthy/helpful for your existing children, I assume they would be the same for the new arrivals.

The new arrivals would complain a lot at first and tell us they've "already seen that movie" or "played Call Of Duty all the time", but we stood firm that they have not done that with us or in our house.

One caveat, we fostered with the intent to eventually adopt so it was important that we establish and explain the family rules as early as possible. It only gets harder if you allow it to continue unchecked and then decide to enforce the rules later. Allowing the inappropriate "privileges" to continue may also contribute to bitterness from the existing children because of the double standard.

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