I hope this letter finds you and your family well. As promised in my first letter to you, in this letter I will be writing about some of the ways we parents can monitor our teenagers’ Internet and mobile phone activities.
As parents, it is only natural to be curious about what our teen is doing with his time on the Internet or with whom our daughter is exchanging text messages. However, it is also very natural for a teenager to be protective of his or her newly discovered independence and interior world. What can we do to reconcile such opposite interests?
At first glance, this seems like an almost impossible task. Nonetheless, there are things
that can be done to help our teen to use modern technology responsibly.
Begin when your child is young: establish a time limit for watching television or playing computer games (preferably after homework is completed). This will enable you, as your child grows into the teen’ years, to continue imposing such time limits: they become an acceptable norm in your house.
Make a point of talking often to your child about the dangers of chat rooms, of disclosing personal information to strangers over the Internet, of gossiping through messenger or mobile phone. If possible, illustrate the dangers with real life stories (there are plenty of them in the newspapers!) I know this looks like a “scare tactic”; but it works!
Be clear with your child about your expectations regarding both content and time limits. Let your child know that certain websites are off limits and that spending hours on the computer or mobile phone is a waste of time. Of course, in this instance we have to lead by example.
Discuss pornography and porn related websites with your pre-teen and teen, and explain to him the negative personal consequences of viewing pornography.
Place computers and television in public areas of the house. Do not allow your teen to take his laptop to his bedroom or to view television behind closed doors (this is a difficult one – easier if begun when the child is young).
Foster family communication during meal times, not allowing teens to play electronic games or to text during meals.
The idea of a filter is not a bad one, especially if you have small children in the house. A very good filter is Bsecure on line. Needless to say, the best filter of all is your teen’s ability to monitor himself or herself. This we can achieve through continuous loving conversations with our child.
I hope the above ideas are of some help to you. Setting boundaries with your child is always easier done at any early stage before habits of use have set in, and are more easily accepted when you have explained the reasoning behind the boundaries and rules of the family.
Bye for now!