Today, children are more inclined to use digital technology from a very young age. In the past, while children would start using devices around the age of 15, today they can begin from as early as 3 years of age.
Today's teenagers are now very accustomed to a digital lifestyle. Looking at this issue from a family perspective, it is getting harder for parents to understand and adapt to this digital life of their children. Give a teenager an internet connection, and you instantly have a worried parent.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a digital world. Look around you, it exists in everything we do.
Technology is an integral part of teenagers lives. It will also most likely become an integral part of their careers.
So what can parents do to understand our teens today?
According to Reachout.com, young people use the internet and social media to:
connect with, comment on and discuss things with others, through social networking, emailing and online messaging
find, create or share interesting photos, videos and articles
join or follow interest groups
play online games
learn more about topics that interest them
as a study tool for school.
Parents should begin by educating themselves on today's technology. First, begin to keep up with your children by observing their experiences and ask questions. They may prefer to do some daily activities such as reading books and shopping digitally. You should also teach and model kindness and good manners online.
Trust is key
Trust is a two-way street with technology and teenagers. Tell your teen that you trust him or her, but if the trust gets broken, he or she will enjoy fewer freedoms until it's rebuilt. If you feel your child’s safety is in danger, do not hesitate to investigate.
Create an open dialogue with your teenager about social media use. As a parent you should set rules about what apps they can use, how much time they spend on it and whether they should or shouldn't share their passwords with you.
Help your teenager understand the actions they make online can also have consequences in real life. Let them know you are there to support and not judge if anything concerns them. They need to know they can trust you and you will help them if needed. Be supportive and try to understand things from their perspective.
Technology is not the be all and end all
The benefits of technology, if used moderately and appropriately, can be great for teenagers. However, face-to-face time with family plays a pivotal role in promoting learning and healthy development. Ensure you maintain this quality time as a priority with teenagers and don't let it get lost behind a stream of media and tech.
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