Jennifer Garner Is ‘Kind of Panicked’ About Daughter Violet Having a Laptop: She’s Not on Social Media ‘But I Know It’s Coming’

09/29/2016 at 03:35 PM ET

Jennifer Garner Jo-Ann Fabric We Made It
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Jennifer Garner is trying her best to lead by example for her three kids.

Garner, 44, shares daughters Violet, 10, and Seraphina, 7, and son Samuel, 4, with Ben Affleck, and told TODAY Parents about her latest challenge: raising a preteen.

“We just had back to school night, and I said afterwards, ‘Do they need a computer?’ ” she says. “Our daughter doesn’t have any of those things, and she’s the only kid in the class who doesn’t, apparently, so I found an old laptop this weekend for her.”

She continues, “I am kind of panicked about it. She’s not on social media yet — her school has a no social media policy until 6th grade — but I know it’s coming soon.”

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For Garner, parenting involves being constantly aware of how her actions affect her children.

“I try to be the best version of myself and to have faith that they’re watching me as carefully when I do something right as they do when I roll through a stop sign,” she says.

For Garner, parenting goes beyond verbal communication.

“I don’t think empathy is something you can drill in someone’s head,” Garner explains. “You have to have faith that while your kids can seem to be selfish and concerned only about the word ‘mine’ sometimes, overall, they are watching you really carefully, and if you care about other people, they will too.”

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And this introspection started from the moment she welcomed Violet into the world.

“Once I had kids, I began asking myself, how do I want to spend my time?” she says. “How do I want to make what little impact I can on the world? And over and over again, I was wondering who was helping the kids like the kids I grew up with in West Virginia and rural America.”

From West Virginia to Hollywood, Garner tries her best to maintain a proper work-life balance.

“I try to make bedtime sacred, to have some alone time with each kid every night, when it is possible,” she says. “Except for the nights when it’s not possible. I work, and I have a job that means that sometimes I have to go out at night, and sometimes I need to go out at night just for me.”

— Blake Bakkila

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Sara on

You are the parent, you make the rule. Your child doesn’t need to have social media just because they have a laptop. Our kids aren’t allowed any social media until 13 and then it is just Facebook (no Instagram, no SnapChat, etc). We also have passwords to their Facebook and their email and cell phones. The older two are almost 14 and almost 16 and they have no issues following the rules, and no they don’t sneak other accounts behind my back as they both agree it’s not safe. My youngest is almost 11. She just got her first laptop which is her brother’s old one (he is almost 16 and needed a newer, stronger computer). No social media of any type for another couple years for her.

Anonymous on

Sara – she is an actress. Telling an entertaining story. I am sure she knows that she is the parent and is responsible for making the rules.

Back on topic, my 2nd grader is also the only one in his class without his own computer. I contemplated giving him my old laptop but don’t want him anywhere near the internet.

Maria on

I get that she doesn’t have her own computer at 10. I didn’t until I was 18 and could buy my own.
@Sara, you don’t let your older teens have their own privacy? I understand having passwords to accounts at a younger age, but 16? I don’t see how having privacy, aka mommy and daddy not having all access to your Facebook is not being safe. You should trust that you did a good job raising your kids, not force them to tell you everything. I didn’t have any privacy growing up which resulted in me hiding things from my parents and not making the best decisions.