Conor is a correspondent at Radical Parenting and is eager to provide insight on teen topics.
It is extremely important for parents to be willing to listen to and even accept decisions their teens may be making on the Internet. Any parent who strictly monitors and criticizes Internet behavior can easily be seen as over-protective and hawkish. Letting teenagers have their own email address, website accounts and Internet endeavors is a necessary part of independence as well as a strong parent-child relationship.
2. Know when to Draw the Line
Although it is important to have an open mind when it comes to Internet usage, it is almost as equally important to be able to communicate with your teen when you believe that his or her actions on the web are becoming dangerous, unhealthy or inappropriate. Simply stated: the Internet can be an unsafe place and it is not uncommon for teens to engage in behavior that puts them at risk in one way or another, especially on social networking sites to which any individual can join. However, open confrontation and/or argument is not necessarily the best way to help a teen disengage from unsafe or inappropriate measures on social media sites.
3. Listen to your Teen
In many cases, teenagers know more about the Internet and can navigate it far more easily and effectively than adults. Therefore, many parents would be doing themselves a disservice to not take lessons from their teenagers regarding social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and many others that can be just as useful to parents as they are for teenagers.
4. Join Social Networking Sites
In this day and age, social networking sites are becoming just like telephones, as it is becoming harder and harder to communicate without them. With social media becoming an essential part of communication and connection, many parents can not only find a way to appropriately monitor their teenagers’ behavior but also connect or reconnect with friends and discover all kinds of new things.
5. Be Careful
I find that with many people who are new to social networking, they are somewhat alarmed by what they find. The thing is, many teens reveal more about themselves on social networking sites, and the Internet in general, than they would ever tell their parents. Therefore, parents need to understand that if they choose to monitor their teens’ actions on social media sites, then they are bound to discover things about their teens that are, at best, mildly surprising, and at worst, shocking, disappointing truths that they have not yet faced.
6. Be Supportive
As an extension of point #5, it is important for parents to, not only brace themselves for what they may encounter on sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but also to know how to talk to their teen about something that is troubling to them. I can speak from personal experience in this instance, and say that friendly discussion about what a teen may be putting on social networking sites is far more productive than a secret viewing of a teen’s social networking accounts followed up by a rather hostile accusation and expression of disappointment.
Photo Credit: Teleznet Infographics on Flickr