Cellphone Safety at Slumber Parties

(Originally published on Cyberstrong Kids)

Last year, my daughter had a slumber party for her 11th birthday. The moment the kids arrived, I noticed a big difference: They all either a cellphone or device.

I thought I was prepared with food, games and movies. However, I had no idea the various issues their devices would create. In fact, something happened that really scared me and never even crossed my mind before the party.

The girls had fun all night doing the typical slumber party activities. They were cozy in our living room, getting into their sleeping bags, when I went to bed.

Around midnight, one of the girls decided she wanted to go home. However, she didn’t say anything to anyone at the party.  Instead, she pulled out her cellphone and texted her mom to come and get her. Since it was late, when her mom pulled up at our house she texted her daughter to come outside. Most of the girls were asleep by now. Again, nobody knew that she was planning on leaving.

Thankfully, as she walked to the front door, another girl was coming back from the bathroom and asked her what she was doing.

I am so thankful they bumped into each other. We would have woken up in the morning and she would have been gone! Can you imagine having to call her parents and ask them if she by chance was at home?! Thankfully that didn’t happen.

It did get me thinking though. It never occurred to me to talk to the girls about directly communicating with me if there was a problem.

Today’s technology brings about a whole new set of potential issues that we didn’t deal with growing up. Before hosting your next slumber party, consider these slumber party safety rules:

The Wifi Code: When the girls arrived they all wanted access to our Wifi.  I realized quickly that there was no way I could control what they were viewing, especially once I went to bed,  so decided against passing out the code. Since the internet has information on everything and most kids have stumbled across inappropriate information online, consider how much access you want them to have during your party.

Texting Groups: Another issue that developed was the different texting groups that formed. Even though they were all in the same house, a few girls created a texting group that didn’t include everyone. You can imagine that the others quickly felt left out. Talk with the kids about not using their devices in a way that excludes other guests, whether it’s with texting, games or photos.

Texting Other Friends: One of the girls started texting a boy she liked. I had no idea whether or not her parents would approve. Since all families have different rules, I asked her to wait to chat with him until she got home. It’s important to think about how much contact you want the kids to have with other friends during your event.

Sharing the Fun: Kids love to show the good times they are having in real time on sites like Instagram. Not only could this be hurtful to kids who aren’t invited to the party, if they use “map my photo” or geotagging,  people could know where they are, which is dangerous.

Posting Photos: Kids love to upload pictures of themselves. However, everything they post, share or send leaves behind a digital footprint. Remind the kids that all posts can become public.

At our party, I ended up having the kids put their devices away.  They complained, but once they were out of site, they had so much more fun together.

There are definitely advantages to today’s technology, but other issues crop up as well. As parents, it is really hard to predict all of the potential problems, especially since we didn’t have to deal with these issues growing up. Before hosting your next slumber party, think about how much access you’d like the kids to have and clearly share your guidelines with them.

As I get ready for this year’s party I am going to set our rules about technology at the start. I know this may not be popular with the kids, but I want to keep them safe and encourage them to have fun together.

I’d love to hear from you. Visit me at Cyberstrong Kids and sign-up for more FREE parenting tips on kids and technology.

Have you had any similar issues with technology at your parties? What happened and how did you handle it?

Please comment below and share with your friends.

10 thoughts on “Cellphone Safety at Slumber Parties

  1. I wonder how many parents think of collecting devices, just like collecting keys at a news years eve party? As tempted as I might be (my kids aren’t old enough to be in this situation yet) would I be too worried about the repercussions? Howe sad things have become. Kids just can’t be kids with all the digital temptation.

  2. Hi Torie,

    Hope all is well with you. I found your article to be helpful and full of valuable information. Would you mind if I post this to our school FB page?

    Thank you,
    Heidi

  3. I have had similar issues with my kids friends when they come over to sleepover. So far when my kids friends come to sleep over I ask for their devices by a certain hour that night (usually around 11pm) and tell them they can have the phone back in the mornings. I definitely have kept this rule while my kids are in middle school. My oldest is starting high school next year so I am not sure at what point I will not enforce this rule with his friends.

    • It is very different from our slumber parties as kids! It can be tough to keep up. Glad you’ve been monitoring too. It’s really important! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow! You have brought up some issues that I have never considered. Thank you! I will be definitely not sharing wifi with guests. I will also be sitting down with Naomi and her friend(s) before they hurry off to her room. Great info!

    • Thank you! It is a challenge to predict all the of the potential issues surrounding technology. It’s one of the reasons I love to share with other parents.

  5. Great information. Thanks for addressing these issues within our communities. The more informed we are the better we can help our kids.

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