Today, teens are constantly on their phones. They text friends, post to Snapchat, like each other’s Instagram posts, and scroll through their Facebook feeds. It’s like their phones are attached to them—they simply cannot disconnect! It’s hard for parents to keep up with their app profiles and online activity when there are so many apps that they use to connect to their peers and friends. Parents want to make sure their teens are safe online, but it’s difficult to stay updated with the latest online trends. Here are some tips to help you monitor your teen’s digital life.
1. Reinforce the rules. This rule is simple, but often forgotten by teenager: Technology is a privilege, not a given right. Parents can always give or deny their teen’s access to technology if they disobey the rules or do not act appropriately online. Keep in mind that parents are their children’s first and best role models. Model good online behavior and find a balance between the digital and real worlds. That way, your children will understand how to behave and follow suit.
2. Take a technology inventory. Create a list of all of the devices your child has access to. This includes smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, computers, laptops, etc. It will help you keep track of the electronics and understand which devices need to be managed. Also, familiarize yourself with apps that your teen often uses. Then, you can be better informed about exactly what your children are doing online.
3. Establish technology time. Make a “family media plan” in which you outline where and when specific devices can be used, and how they can be monitored for safety. You can create “tech-free” zones and times in the house where everyone is disconnected. These are great opportunities to spend time together as a family instead of scrolling through photos online.
4. Reinforce Internet safety. You can find almost anything online, which means your children can as well. Become computer literate and be actively involved in your children’s online activity. One way to do this is to place computers or laptops in high-traffic areas of your home, rather than your teen’s bedroom. It makes it easier to monitor your children’s activity if their screens are not hidden away from your sight. Also, remind your teenagers that not everyone is who they say they are online. They should not give away their personal information to anyone they do not know. If they see anything strange or that makes them uncomfortable, they should know to report it.
The online world constantly becomes more complex, making it increasingly difficult for parents to manage and monitor their teens’ online activity. With these tips, you can make sure your children are safe online and find a balance between online and offline time.