Teens and Technology
When it comes to teens and technology, it’s a whole new world today, literally an online one. Technology has transformed what it means to be a teenager today. It permeates every part of their lives from school to home and has completely changed the dynamics of their relationships and communication.
Trying to parent our tweens and teens with all these devices, apps and social media is challenging, especially considering half the time it feels like they know far more than we do (okay maybe all the time).
The turn it off battles, figuring out if and how we should monitor our teens tech use and teaching them to be safe and wise about their online activities is enough to make many parents crazy.
But the worst part of it all is the worry. We worry about what our teens and tweens are doing, who they are meeting and what they might be seeing online. It doesn’t always occur to us until too late how a smartphone can open our teenagers up to so many potential threats.
Teens and Social Media
There is long list of the ways technology can harm our tweens and teens, but the effects of social media on teens is the most concerning. As the rates of suicide, depression and anxiety are growing at alarming rates among tweens and teens, much of the evidence points to smartphones and in particular access to social media sites.
Social media fuels the insecurities of our adolescents at a time when they are most vulnerable. It creates a never ending feedback loop that is often filled with unrealistic images, opportunities for comparison and a need for constant affirmation.
Parents are strongly cautioned about allowing tweens access to social networking sites. The sites themselves even suggest that 13 should be the minimum age for joining.
By high school, allowing some social media becomes more reasonable. Our teens do need to learn to how to manage social media, because it will be an inevitable part of their adult experience. Better they begin with our guidance.
The Positives of Teen Tech Use
We also need to keep in mind, not all tech is bad. There are many ways that technology can be beneficial to our tweens and teens. Our young people can explore the world in ways never accessible to previous generations. They can get answers to all their most pressing questions with a simple Google search, they can learn to tackled just about any task by watching a YouTube video and then can even go to school virtually.
Plus, while absolutely there are some apps that aren’t a good idea for teens, there are tons of other teen apps that can help our tweens and teens in numerous areas. There are homework apps, organizational apps and even apps to help them prepare for the SAT and ACT.
Raising Digitally Savvy Teens
At the end of the day, parenting tweens and teens in today’s technology world doesn’t mean we have to be tech experts. What we really need to raise digitally savvy tweens and teens is to stop viewing the online world as something totally foreign.
Many of the parenting strategies we apply to their offline lives, also apply online. It’s about paying attention, staying tuned in and setting age appropriate rules and boundaries. It’s also about enforcing consequences and always remembering that technology is a privilege not a right.
Also, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask our tweens and teens for help when it comes to what we may not know about the latest tech gadgets and trends. Most of time they’ll be happy to show off their expertise and it can even be a great way to connect with our tweens and teens.