As the parent of a teen you are well aware that teens love their privacy and the ability to communicate with their friends without interference from “Big Brother,” AKA, mom and dad. While giving teens their own space is very important to their personal growth, the explosion of social media, the myriad of ways teens now communicate and the rise in cyber bullying makes paying attention to how our teens converse with their friends that much more important. There is a proliferation of new apps that allow users to remain completely anonymous which is rapidly growing in popularity with teens. These are apps that you, as a parent should be aware of and speak with your teen about. Anonymity allows teens to say ugly and mean things without retribution and that is a dangerous trend.
Here are some suggestions on how to monitor your teens’ communications; and yes they do seem “Big Brother-ish,” but that is the reality of today’ world.
· Keep your computer in the open at home where you can casually monitor your child’s computer activities. Let your child know that you will be periodically checking in on their friends list, webpage history, and communications, not to intrude on their privacy, but to make sure they are safe
· Discuss cyber bullying openly and review appropriate vs. inappropriate online behavior. If possible, begin this dialogue prior to opening an email or social networking account. Setting guidelines in advance will make it easier for you in the long run
· Discourage secretive behavior
· Learn your child’s username and check your child’s profiles, webpages, and blogs
Here is an excellent article from The Washington Post.
Cathi Cohen, LCSW, CGP