We are learning that keeping up with technology and our youth can be a difficult task at times, but knowledge and awareness is key to understanding the need to put some good rules and boundaries in place for our kids. Tips for parents are helpful, especially now that school is starting up again and most youth are wired with different technology for their classes.
Many youth use their smart phones as day timers, calculators, and utilize the Internet for research, so just because they are on their phones, does not mean that they are just texting or messaging their friends. Tablets and Laptops have also become popular with teens and are providing them a more compact tool for school as students can use them to keep class notes, to use as calculators, to set up their schedules, as well to access the Internet as needed (if their school permits).
With these various new tools at our youth’s fingertips, it’s important for parents to set up guidelines and boundaries for positive communication with their teens.
Guidelines for Parents:
Set time limits for computer use. Understanding that they use their devices for school does not provide for 24/7 use. Have the discussion about the importance about taking a break and doing some physical activity and spending time with family and friends.
Charge all devices in one location i.e. parent’s bedroom. This ensures that your teen is not ‘wired’ all night, instead of getting a good restful night sleep. Too many youth keep their cell phone on vibrate and text for hours at night.
Be aware of the Internet sites your youth is visiting. Always maintain good open communication to discuss the risks of inappropriate activity online. Youth today have instant access to global information (more than we ever dreamed possible-good and bad) and we need to teach them to make positive decisions online.
Get to know your youth’s ‘online’ friends. This is a very important part of good cyber parenting, to know who your youth are friends with and do not allow them to meet anyone new without you being present. This establishes a good guideline for your teen if it ever happens that ‘someone’ who may not be who they say they are online tries to engage them in a face-to-face meeting.
Be, real, be connected and be open with your teen. The reality is that the technology is here, it makes our lives easier in many ways but we also need to guide our teens to be positive cyber-citizens online. This happens when we engage in conversation with them about what they doing with the time that they spend ‘chatting with friends’, doing their online research or just watching videos or playing games.
Alternately, we need to remember to always keep in mind that our youth have been immersed in the technology, and that we must take on this immersion to gain knowledge about the latest trends. We need to be aware of the risks and to share information with our youth, to ensure that Internet safety is part of daily family discussions. For us, knowledge and awareness is the first step for our Internet education.