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Talking with Your Teens About Tech Use

Picture this: you’ve just asked your child to put away his phone before bedtime. You come back to check on him 5 minutes later and he’s still using his phone. An argument begins and both of you end up frustrated and angry.

What about this? Your daughter comes home from school in tears because someone posted an anonymous mean comment about her on Instagram. You feel helpless to address it but worry about the effects of social media on your daughter and other teens.

Imagine this: you come home earlier than expected from work to find your son looking at pornography. Once your child realizes you have seen it, he snaps his laptop shut and runs to his room. You are both embarrassed and unsure of what to do. While it is natural for tweens and teens to be curious about sex, the effects of pornography on teens are deeply concerning.

I imagine these scenarios might feel familiar to you as parents of teens and tweens. Technology has expanded at such a rapid rate that it’s hard to keep up with all that is happening. It can feel overwhelming and bewildering, especially because parents of this generation did not grow up with cell phones in hand. Our teens and tweens are constantly exposed to all sorts of information, and it is practically impossible to stop it.

So what do we do? How do we help our kids navigate the digital jungle? Here are a few practical steps you can take to help your kids thrive in the digital age.

  1. Listen to your kids about how they use technology and social media platforms. It can be really challenging to listen without judgment, but as soon as teens sense it, they usually shut down. Try to understand where they are coming from.
  2. Talk to your kids about technology, social media, sexting and pornography. Use resources like Common Sense Media and The Australian Parenting Website to guide the discussions.
  3. Set restrictions on your child’s tech usage. An example would be collecting phones, laptops and tablets before bedtime. Another example is setting up parental controls on your wifi network.
  4. Create a family contract that states how and when kids will use technology and the internet.

In addition to your efforts at home, we will be addressing online safety, digital citizenship and social media usage in the high school during advisory time in the coming months. We know this is not an easy job, and we are here to partner with you!

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am happy to meet with you!

Brook Pauley
High School Counselor


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