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internet use, limit teen internet

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.

A nationally representative Pew Research Center survey, "Teens and Technology 2013”, explored technology use among teenagers (ages 12-17) and their parents.

According to this study, Smartphone use and mobile access to the internet has increased substantially. One in four teens use their phone to go online, and not some other device like a desktop or laptop computer.

The “Teens and Technology 2013” survey’s key findings include that 78% of teens have a cell phone, and 95% of teens use the Internet.

Since the invention of the Internet, our lives have transformed dramatically:

  • Instead of using a landline phone and answering machine, we use a cellphone and can be reached no matter where we are.
  •  When was the last time you dropped a film off to get prints? These days we take them on the smartphone and post them on MySpace, Facebook, or YouTube, instantly sharing them with friends and anyone else.
  • Do you remember what a boom-box is? The ever-present stereo, the bigger (and louder!) the better. It has given way to far smaller devices such as the iPod (and fortunately earphones!).
  • Renting movies has been replaced by Internet services such as Netflix

Reality is, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use, such a social media and social websites, often evoke changes in the adult population.

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Monitoring Smartphone Use

There is no denying that your teen is exposed to a variety of dangers on a daily basis. It’s impossible not to worry about the temptations facing teenagers today.

While the Internet exposes them to emotional dangers like cyber bullying - hanging out with their friends and driving their own car exposes them to physical dangers.

As parents, we need to find the right balance of trust and monitoring without driving your teen into secrecy and deception.

There are ways to monitor your teenager in ways they will appreciate, because they express your desire to keep your adolescent child safe. These methods serve as a safety net and should never be used for regular spying on your teenager’s text messages or phone calls.

Cell phone monitoring software has one great feature - 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 time trying to figure out where they are, you are already on your way. 

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.

Use ESRB ratings: The Entertainment Software Rating Board  offers ratings so you can protect your child from some of the most violent games.

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.

As a parent, how do you know when your teen's Internet use is going too far?

There is no easy litmus test. Teenagers love to play online games, post to Facebook, MySpace, or other Social Networking Sites, or Tweet about their idols, activities, and favorite shows on TV.

Considering how many people are using the Internet to “Stay connected”, 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!

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