Many kids today are more tech-savvy than their parents. This can make it difficult to supervise what your child is doing online, but monitoring their online activity is very important. For many teens, their online lives are often more “real” to them than the people and things around them.
Teens use technology differently.
From television to smart phones to tablets, technology is a normal part of everyday life for most Americans – adults and teens alike. Adults may remember a time before smart phones, but teens today do not.
The average American spends hours each day engaging with technology, but the average teen is using that technology much differently than the average adult. How are teens different?
- Teens are often less reserved in their online communication than adults
- They believe they can control their private information online much more than they actually can
- Getting “likes” or followers is often more meaningful to teens than actually liking (or even knowing) the people they are connecting with online
- There are numerous apps which only allow teens, or students at a particular school, to engage with the app
- The apps which adults go to are rarely the most popular apps among teens
Talk to your teen about their technology use
We spend hours teaching our kids how to drive a big and powerful car… and minutes watching them unwrap their newest tech gadget on Christmas morning. Have you thought about what a big and powerful influence that gadget is for your teen?
If your teen has a smart phone, that means they have a super smart, super fast computer that can connect them with literally the entire world-wide web in only seconds.
There are hundreds of apps available to your teen, thousands of You Tube videos, and many people wanting to connect with them via technology who your teen would never want to connect with if they were standing face to face.
How can you talk with your teen? It may be helpful to create a technology contract with your child, and to physically hold their phone or computer while they show you the apps and websites they are using. Talk to their friends. Read the news. Check in with other parents and teachers.
Technology makes it very easy to hide online activity and manipulate data, and unless you are in IT, you are probably behind the curve compared with your teenager in how you understand technology. So create open communication about technology use, and prepare your child for a successful future with how they engage with technology.
A very powerful computer, with the world-wide web, is sitting in their pocket. How are they using it?