Stay in the tech game, parents!

April 13, 2012

Parents have always struggled to talk with their children about certain topics. When kids are young, parents can gloss over the details of where babies come from and why the man in the movie is slurring his words and stumbling. But as kids get older and are making more of their decisions independently, it’s vital for parents to give them good information.

It’s time to be upfront, factual and blunt about what goes on in the world, and more importantly, how to avoid making the big mistakes. Until about 1995, this conversation mostly revolved around sex and drugs (OK, I’ll throw in rock ‘n’ roll just for fun). But with the internet, teens can be unknowingly heading down a dark alley with every click on the smartphone.

Luckily, recent research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that most parents are talking to their teens about online safety. Here’s what parents and teens report:

Parents and teens report that they talk together about online safety

It isn’t shocking that parents talk more than teens listen (or perhaps parents just think they talk more than they actually do), but the good news is that there is conversation happening.

One point from the Pew report that caught my eye and that I think some parents can learn from is this:

“According to teens, parents who use social media are more likely to talk with their teen about what kinds of things should and should not be shared online or on a cell phone. Teens report that parents who are friends with their teens on social media are more likely to have these conversations than parents who have not friended their child (92% vs. 79%). Parents who do not use social media are more likely to have teens who report that their parents do not talk about any online behavior or safety issues with them.”

The message is clear: Parents, do not buy your child a technology you do not understand. Get on social media sites and see what’s going on. Send some photos from your phone so you know how easy it is (too easy). Text so you can relate to your child (what does MOS mean in your teen’s text?). Friend your child on Facebook (but not too obnoxiously). Follow your child on Twitter (discretely). The point is not to harass kids, the point is to fend off a major online mistake that your child could regret.

Be where they are – they need you.

One Response to “Stay in the tech game, parents!”

  1. ABCD123 Says:

    We definitely need to know what our children are doing, especially on public forums. Thanks for the interesting info!

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