by: Christina Botto
It seems that teenagers these days are permanently attached to the Internet.
Whether they are posting to Facebook, downloading songs, blogging, texting, or just surfing the Web, the Internet can be addicting - and not just for teens.
As a parent, how do you know when your teen's Internet use is going too far?
There is no easy litmus test. If your teen loves to play online games, post to Facebook, or Tweet, he may not be alone.
However, if your teen seems to be sacrificing social opportunities or spending more than 25 hours a week in the online gaming arena, something could be wrong.
Managing Video games
Research by the Center for the Study of Violence in Washington, D.C. found conclusive evidence that exposure to video game violence increases aggressive thinking and behavior and reduces empathy and kindness.
Before banning games, ask your teen what he hopes to achieve by playing it. Have your teen make a good case for why the game is a good way to spend his free time. Let your teen walk you through the game and notice the effect the game has on your teenager.
Enforce time limits: Help your child develop self-control by establishing time limits for video-game playing. If necessary, enforce your rules with parental controls.
Express your concerns: Do you feel that this game endorses gang culture, criminal behavior, promotes drug and alcohol use, or encourages disrespect? Be as specific as possible about why a particular game worries you.
Look for games that have educational value: The website Common Sense Media offers reviews, top picks, and best for learning categories not just for games, but also for movies, music, books, apps, and websites.
Considering that many people get addicted to Internet games, it may be hard for parents to recognize when their teen is developing a bad habit - but you’ll know there is trouble if you catch your 11 year old playing Internet games at four o'clock in the morning!
The Internet has opened a new way of living for today’s teenagers – a norm that simply did not exist in pre-Internet days.
- Instead of using the telephone, we now use instant messaging or texting.
- We don't get pictures printed anymore – we take them on the iPhone and post them on MySpace, Facebook, or YouTube, instantly sharing them with friends and anyone else.
- Even the once ever-present stereo has fallen out of vogue; the Internet enables us to download our favorite music to the computer and iPod.
- Renting movies has been replaced by Internet services such as Netflix.
It is not just our teenagers, we ourselves have gotten used to the convenience and the features of being “Instantly connected.”
Before approaching your teen to discuss his or her Internet use, have a good and argument-proof plan, be prepared for your teenager's question, "What do you want me to do instead?" and willing to set an example yourself.
Internet safety is a highly discussed topic on the Internet, and most recommend installing parental controls software on the computer.
There is no denying that your teen is exposed to a variety of dangers on a daily basis.
While the Internet exposes them to more emotional dangers like cyber bullying - hanging out with their friends and driving their own car exposes them to many physical dangers.
The fact that today’s teenagers are permanently attached to their cellphone can actually work in your and your teen’s favor - if you use parental monitoring software wisely!
Spying on your teen’s activities will spark resentment and increased defiant oppositional behavior, and therefore I generally do not suggest any type of monitoring software.
However, there is one feature of monitoring software, such as stealthGenie, that could be of great benefit - viewing your teenager’s current GPS location on a map.
And that means if your teenager’s car broke down, or they are in any kind of unpleasant situation, and call you for help - instead of wasting valuable time trying to figure out where they are, you are already on your way.
About The Author
Christina Botto is a member of the National Writers Association and the author of Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works. She has also recently published a 3 volume series dealing with specific issues facing teens and parents today, Fitting The Pieces. The series contains unique insight into the minds of teens, with hundreds of interviews with teens and their parents – and practical advice on dealing with some of the biggest problems faced by parents with teens.
To learn more about these life-changing strategies to bring you and your teen closer together – and put an end to the frustration and madness of a dysfunctional parent-teen relationship, pick up your copy of Christina's Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works today.
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