Parenting: How to Monitor Your Teenager’s Online Activities
One of the hardest tasks of parenthood, perhaps, is to ward your children against the myriad negative influences and possible harms that may come to them. There are bullies, drugs, and child predators, to name a few. And protecting our kids is not the same task it was for our parents a generation ago; the statistics are different these days, as is the availability to all sorts of products and information that wasn't there before. Today, the internet can present a formidable problem for parents trying to guard their children's developing minds and bodies. It isn't something you want to take away completely because it can be a portal to so much good information (like that provided at MomItForward, if we do say so ourselves). The secret, as with so many parental tasks, is moderation and monitoring.
Recently, we sat down with Tammy Walsh, a mom and advocate for drug awareness. She is a member of the Five Moms Campaign for StopMedicineAbuse.org, which provides tips for monitoring your kids' online activities. They say: "Parents often find it difficult to balance between keeping a watchful eye on their teens and invading their privacy. Some parents may shy away from proactively monitoring their teens’ online behavior because they don’t want to be overbearing, 'uncool,'or untrusting." StopMedicineAbuse.org says definitively: "IT’S OKAY!" Here's how:
- Monitor what your teen searches and where they go online. Keep tabs on the list of websites visited and items searched on your computer by reviewing your internet browser’s history. You can do this by opening your internet window and using the shortcut Ctrl+H. Look for suspicious sites or search terms related to dangerous behavior, such as terms like “robotripping” or “dexxing” and pro-drug use sites like GrassCity.com and Erowid.com.
- Address online behavior offline. If you see your teen using their Facebook page in an inappropriate way, or if you see red flags for dangerous behavior, address it offline! Don’t use their profile as a way to communicate your concerns. Instead, take it as an opportunity to talk to your teen offline. For example, if you see friends referencing drinking or drug use on their wall talk, to them about the risks of this dangerous behavior.
- Friend away! According to a recent study by Lab42, 92% of parents are Facebook friends with their children and more joining to monitor their kids’ interactions, with 40% citing safety as the top reason for looking at their profiles. This will allow you to keep tabs on who your teen is interacting with and will allow you to identify any red flags for risky behavior, including dangerous teen trends like robotripping, surfing, and 30 seconds.
- Bring Internet use out from behind closed doors. Insist that your teen uses the computer in a communal space rather than in their bedrooms.
There are, in fact, ways to be hands-on without hovering.
How do you teach your teens to act responsibly online?
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.