The Online World and your Teenager
The internet, social media, online games, online chat, online EVERYTHING…it’s a huge part of all our lives, including your teenagers. Schools put big efforts into teaching them good online behaviour and they probably know far more about online technology than we do. We’re just glad Netflix finally made it to Australia!
Talking to and guiding teenagers in online use and boundaries can be really difficult, but as their parents and care-givers, it’s essential we do. The Mental Health statistics from Cyber Bullying are scary, Social Media Addiction is a real thing, and did you even know they can chat to other people when they play Clash of Clans???
Teenagers Online 101 for even the most Non-Net-Savvy-Parent
- Should I get a filter to block adult or unsafe content?
Set up a safe online environment using information resources and software. Littler kids need internet filters but teenagers probably need them too. If you can access it, they probably can too. Make sure passwords are appropriate and safely kept
- Where and when should they be allowed online?
Set up rules and clear boundaries for use that are agreed upon and “reasonable”. They should be part of this process and understand why you and they need it. Set up guidelines for when, how and with who around for their use.
- How long should I allow my teenager online?
Set up their online use like you would with other fun aspects of their routine. It has time frames, requires doing x,y and z first; and is a privilege as much as they may not agree.
- How can I comfortably talk to my teenager about their online life?
Keep talking to them about their online world however you can- ask them how to instagram, if they saw that weird llama picture on facebook or about their MMMMMMORPGPA..or whatever Multi person online games are called these days.
“If you and your children have regular conversations about the online world, they’ll be more likely to talk to you if they are harassed or cyberbullied or if something feels uncomfortable” *
- Should I be worried about cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying should be something they understand and look out for, and learn to not partake in.. It’s a type of bullying we can’t really comprehend as kids of the pre 90’s. The damage that can be caused and the possible resulting Mental Health issues are already great and we’re only starting to see the effects. It deserves their and our attention.
- How can I keep them safe online?
Keep up to date on Cyber-Safety and discuss it, as much as they may have heard it a million times and may eyeroll. Each new technology, app, and device has new ways of enabling them to interact with the wider world and we should all be assessing as we, and they go.
- How do I balance their online privacy and safety?
Physically monitor their use. Privacy versus Everything Else We’re Worried About is the balance you are trying to keep. It’s important for their maturing and growth that they have some privacy and that teenagers begin making some of their own standards and choices, but as in all other parts of caring for a tenager, protecting them from harm, and themselves, requires actually knowing what’s going on.
- How much of my teenager’s online activity should I monitor?
Some parents have access to all aspects of their teenagers social media presence- they see facebook and instagram feeds, can assess their web history, approve all game purchases, play in their online games. Of course some follow their kids on the bus to school and follow their movements by GPS on their phones too. Keep a balance.
No-one has the relationship with your teenager that you do, or has that same kid!
So it’s impossible to dictate all the ways you should be monitoring, following, assessing and allowing your Teenager’s online use. We do, however, need to treat it like another type of social interaction even if we are using new tools to assess and guide it. Both for their Physical and Mental Health.
*The National Centre Against Bullying website