In this day and age, it is a real challenge to keep up with all the changes in the technology we use on a daily basis. Smart phones with countless apps and new social networking sites are constantly popping up on our computer screens, and these are just a few of the techie changes happening at a whirlwind speed.
Today’s technology allows your teen to live in two worlds simultaneously, the real world and the virtual world — and an increasing amount of their time seems to be in the virtual world. As parents, how are you handling your teen’s use of technology? How are you keeping your kids safe?
Teens today are constantly connected with one another. Technology has allowed gossip, cyber bullying and sexting to grow at an exponential rate and with greater intensity. This is the downside of technological improvements. Your job as a parent?
I have two suggestions:
Be a role model for your teen.
How often are you texting your teen? Are you texting your child during her school hours? If you are texting her all the time, she’s learning that this is appropriate. She is watching what you do. Your teen notices how you are using your smart phone. She notices the amount of time you spend and what you write on Facebook. Modeling is a powerful teaching method. Use it wisely.
Create a contract with your teen.
It is appropriate for you as a parent to monitor your child’s behavior. You can and should be monitoring what your teen is posting and communicating on Facebook and any other social network he uses. You don’t have to monitor 24/7, but spot checking is a healthy thing to do as a parent. With your teen, create a list of rules that establishes how the computer can be used — how, when, and why. Knowing passwords is also appropriate. Establishing a set of rules allows both parent and child to be on the same page, understanding what is expected from both. It also allows security for your child if, for example, if cyber bullying or inappropriate messages begin to appear, because you will be able to intervene.
And yes, allowing your teen to own a mobile phone does provide you with some safety because she can contact you in case of an emergency. But, if you are not carefully monitoring her activities, she can also use the device to send inappropriate messages to her friends (and can lie to you about where she is) if she thinks you will not check. Establishing a contract delineating how, when and why the phone is to be used allows for less misunderstanding.
There are benefits and drawbacks to the rapid changes in technology we are experiencing. Using technology to improve our lives is always the goal, but sometimes, as we’ve seen, it can be misused and cause harm to others.
What suggestions do you have to keep the use of technology and cyber ware safe for our teens?