Parenting Teens By Tech, ALEXA & Other Smart Home Gadgets

I recently heard the parent of a baby commenting how she thought life would be easier once her baby could sit up. I smiled to myself because I remember me and my group of antenatal friends thinking the same. It would be easier once they could sit. Then maybe when they could crawl/walk/speak.

The thing is, it doesn't get easier, just different as the parenting issues and solutions change.
madmumof7 and teen daughter

Take me for instance. Children aged from 10 upward into their twenties. A lot less physical parenting but more mind games, amateur psychology and, if I'm honest, a LOT of parenting by text. Or What's App or Messenger or Snapchat or whatever your child's communication method of choice might be.

I was glad to learn I was not the only parent who has set up a family group to communicate with older children who might even be in the same house as you. Admittedly my group seems to involve a lot of piss taking, changing group message colours and giving sometimes inappropriate nicknames to group members. Although I secretly quite like my current nickname of "Mothering Overlord."

 mobile phone. Photo by William Hook on Unsplash

My friend's family group seem to spend a lot of time discussing who is sucking up all the bandwidth but at least she avoids the actual eye rolling and door slamming which was more typical when I was a teen. And she can mute them when they are squabbling which is much harder when they are actually using their real life voices.

The main issue I have with using phones and other gadgets as a way of communicating is that although they always seem to have one about their person and leap to answer pinging calls to attention from their peers, whenever I call or message I endure sometimes hours of whistling silence with only the whispering sound of passing tumbleweed to reassure me I am alive.

Could they be ignoring me deliberately? Should I create an alter ego to fool them? I would have to change it regularly of course. Maybe burner phones are the answer?

Today for example I went out and worried I might have left a pan on the hob with the gas on. No worries, my 19-year-old son was still at home with another half an hour before he was due to leave for work. I called him on his mobile. The ringing went on until the nice answer machine man told me no-one was available to answer my call. Except I knew he was.

I sent a message via every messaging service he has. I emailed him in the hope it would pop up on his laptop as it was almost inevitable he would be looking at it with headphones on. Nope. No reply.

I actually thought I might rupture something I was so frustrated.

Thinking out of the box I set a reminder for two minutes time on Alexa using the app on my phone to be announced on the gadget we have sitting inches from where he was sitting when we left.

Amazon's Alexa

 I then set it remotely to start playing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody then a selection of Muse tracks, switching between them every few seconds in the hope of getting his attention.


The music baffled him and he finally checked his phone and seeing many many messages and missed calls, called me back. My pan and the boiling eggs in it were saved.

I have in the past messaged my children to come downstairs for tea rather than bellowing up the stairs. I often set an Alexa reminder to tell my teens to go to bed if I want a really early night. No more telling me they didn't realise what time it was when it's midnight and I've woken to realise I can still hear the TV! I can even turn the TV volume down or even turn it and the lights off thanks to our smart home gadgets - very useful for sleepover parties. I'm currently working on learning how to broadcast throughout the house via Alexa to tell them to be quiet or to send other messages.

Do you communicate with your teens via technology or are you still parenting the traditional way? Is my way ingenious or lazy? I'm curious to know your thoughts.

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