In today’s day and age, everyone has a cell phone – for better or worse. And these tiny little boxes are so powerful they provide unlimited access to an unlimited amount of information – good and bad. So when dealing with our teens, how do we know when to step in, when to monitor, and when to mind our own business?
That’s a tough question. To start, our teens are living drastically different lives than we did at their age. In fact, 76% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 own cell phones. 76%!
Experts say kids are, on average, spending more than seven hours a day on their phone. So how do we know what they’re doing on there? Should we know? Do we even want to?
Well, in this new day and age virtual friendships are considered the norm…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our teens access to the online world gives them the opportunity to meet new people and exercise the same independence as we did at that age.
If you feel like something is wrong, and it’s related to what’s going on in their online world, we recommend the following:
Have a conversation with your teen about what’s appropriate and what’s not. Set non-technical boundaries for cell phone and online usage, and let your teen know what you’re comfortable with. Be compassionate, but firm and remember, teens often hear only 1% of what we say but 100% of how we say it.
Talk to your teen. Most of the time, all it takes is a simple conversation to set the record straight. If you sense poor online behavior or presence, let them know you’re concerned. The question alone may help your teen realize something they’re doing may not be acceptable.
While this isn’t our first choice, you can always use monitoring software to figure out what your teen is up to. While this is certainly considered invasive, it could be beneficial… or not. We recommend to proceed with caution here, as this option can make things even worse. You can read more about our opinion on “helicopter parenting” here.
Parenting a teenager is a difficult, and sometimes scary task. Often times, we need to weigh our options carefully since there will almost always be a reaction. Many parents find success with having simple, face-to-face conversations about online boundaries and self-respect. Be careful not to accuse your teen, but rather warn them of potential consequences. Parenting a teenager is a game of balance and guidance.
While there are no right or wrong answers, it’s up to you as a parent to figure out what will work best for your personal situation. While we stress open and honest communication when dealing with your teenager, it’s not always easy. But we’re here to help you along the way…