Trust, Teens, and Technology By: Amy Williams
Spying versus monitoring
Spying is often done behind closed doors and is secretive. This method banishes any sense of privacy and shoves a wedge between parents and teens, because it is based on a lack of trust.. Rebellion and anger are often the result of spying- leading to a complete breakdown of communication.
Monitoring, however, refers to watching your children’s online activity without the covert aspect. Whether utilizing technology or just manually watching what they’re doing, this is not just a way of keeping track of your children, but oftentimes a necessity in light of the wide range of freedom offered by the internet. In almost all cases, it’s best to be up front with your teen about monitoring. Your oversight is a safety measure that allows teens to engage independently with technology. They are able to prove their responsibility and gain valuable experiences while maintaining privacy. It serves as merely a preventive technique for protection against predators and cyberbullies.
Monitoring provides lessons in communication for teens and offers parents a chance to connect with their children. The ideal way to monitor technology involves parents actively and openly communicating with their teens. This method requires a lot of dialogue, intentional interactions and proactive education.
What about privacy?
Unfortunately, the Internet is anything but private. It doesn’t matter what sites we visit, how strong our passwords are or if we create fake names- somewhere that information is stored eternally. People need to realize that online privacy is a myth and doesn’t really exist. Tell teens – there is no privacy.
Listed below are some ideas to construct the ideal balance with technology and build a trusting relationship:
Be honest with your teen about the seriousness of online interactions. Teens are capable of understanding the consequences of their actions. Arm them with information about cyberbullies, sexting, predators and other concerns.
Tell them upfront you will be monitoring their activity, especially if you suspect a problem.
Together create guidelines for expectations and consequences of technology use.
Understand the person your child is becoming. Be involved. Know their friends, interests, concerns and activities. Make a special effort to listen without judgment to encourage your relationship.
Offer alternative activities and ways to communicate. Encourage social activities, family time and creative outlets.
Start young and teach social media etiquette. Children need to know what is and isn’t acceptable. How can they be safe online if they have never been taught?
Model appropriate technology use yourself. Parents are the first role models and teachers. Your children are watching you.
Ask questions about what they are doing online. Take an active interest and ask them about a new app or why they are giggling. Chances are it is only a silly Vine or YouTube video, but it will allow you a glimpse into their technology use.
“Friend” or follow your child on his favorite apps. This will allow you to text, message, or interact with each other online. As an added bonus, you will be able to see his or her other friends and interactions.
Allow them to be responsible for their devices. Use technology to teach life lessons. Your teen needs to handle his privilege with responsibility. If he cracks the screen, he should replace it. If he forgets to charge his laptop, it’s his job to tell teachers and accept the consequences