Do you watch detective movies and find yourself questioning how they manage to solve a mystery using only their deductive reasoning skills and a little know-how?
As parents of teenagers, there might be days when we wish we could tap into a sleuthing mastermind to keep tabs on our teen’s technology use. We hear the horror stories about cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, and more which can be disheartening or stress inducing. Somewhere along the way, we find ourselves monitoring a teens’ technology use while worrying about hidden apps, sexting images, and online reputations.
It would be great to channel Sherlock Holmes or Watson, but we are left to our own devices. In the fast paced world of Social Media it can be difficult to stay on top of a teen’s technology use, but it isn’t impossible or something only a gumshoe can accomplish. Parents don’t need a well written screenplay to actively monitor a teen’s technology use.
Pros And Cons Of Monitoring A Teen’s Technology
Monitoring is often viewed negatively, because people feel it is spying or something done behind the child’s back. They worry monitoring negatively affects the relationship between teens and parents by increasing anxiety and low self-confidence in children. A few parents even worry monitoring sends the message parents lack trust in their child and tends to promote hovering. To top it all off, many experts feel teens need to learn from their mistakes to mature into adults- a process hindered by monitoring a teen’s technology use.
However, monitoring a teen’s technology use can be beneficial if it is done properly. These measures allow parents to identify potential problems and prevent heartbreaking outcomes. Being aware of a child’s technology use can alert parents to cyberbullying or keep children from dicey situations like riding with drunk drivers or meeting strangers they connected with online.
A child’s safety is priceless and often outweighs any potential side effects. Monitoring can also prevent legal issues for parents. Now 20 states hold parents accountable for a child’s online misdemeanors. There are documented court cases where parents are prosecuted for failing to monitor and stop aggressive online behaviors.
Tips For Successful Monitoring
Teens don’t generally approve of parent involvement in their online affairs, but here are a few strategies to stay updated on a child’s technology use:
Be straightforward. Tell your teen you will be checking in on their devices and Internet activity from time to time, stressing that it is a safety measure. Honesty prevents spying and sneaking behind a child’s back.
Compile their usernames, passwords, and account information in one place. This practice has two benefits: easy access to forgotten passwords and allows parents access to accounts if problems arise.
Know a parents rights. Parents do have legal rights to monitor a teen’s cell phone if you pay the bill and the child is under 18.
Keep all electronics in common areas like the living room. Allowing children to use their devices where you can see them allows you to notice problems before they spiral out of control.
Check all electronics in at one convenient location. Create a charging station by the front door to deposit devices to make morning routines and locating charge cords easier. Plus you will be able to limit use at home.
Guide your child in the art of Social Media etiquette. Start young and discuss the rules of the Internet. We wouldn’t let them ride their bikes in the street without a safety talk- the same should apply to the Internet.
Model appropriate use with devices. If we tell them not to text and drive, but do so ourselves- what message are we sending our children? Avoid being a hypocrite and practice what we preach.
Limit data plans. A recent study found that the greatest way to reduce sexting habits was to limit the amount of data in a teen’s plan- even when compared to parents checking messages.
Invest in an app that allows access to a child’s Internet and Smartphone activity. Look for an app that is easy to install, uses a dashboard to organize all accounts in one location, and doesn’t interfere with your teen’s programs.
Foster an ongoing dialogue with your teen. Open dialogue, without judgment or lectures, will allow parents to gain a better understanding of the situations your teen is facing.
Have a plan. As your child ages, their needs for privacy will grow. Keep tabs on how they handle Social Media and slowly scale back your monitoring if a teen displays maturity and sound judgment.
Piecing Together Technology For Better Tomorrows
By being involved in a teen’s technology use, and with a little luck, parents can piece together a solution to solve the mystery of raising children in a digital age.