6 Things You Must Do for Your Tech-Savvy Teen

tech savvy teensI remember when I was a teenager, computers were the new awe. They were limited to classroom use and the library. But in this day and time, computers and other forms of technology like the iPhone, iPad, and Nook (wait; do they still use Nook?) are just as normal to have as socks and shoes. The social media craze has become the regular way to communicate, with the commonly known Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Periscope, and is the latest pastime and way to find out what’s “trending” in the world today.

Technology has its advantages and positives, but there should be a pause button. Just as the innocence of teens is hanging out on social media, there are also predators desiring to steal that innocence.

As a godparent of a teenager, I get nervous when I see my goddaughter toting her cell phone and texting obliviously. I’m wanting to peek over her shoulder to see who she’s talking to, what she’s saying, and better yet, what their response is to her? My mama-mode kicks in and all I want to do is snatch the phone from her hands and run a Google search on her lil texting buddy.

But in the real world, that’s not the right way to handle it (nor is it sane). So I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to help “police” your teens without causing them to widen the great divide of parent and teen, as well as provide you with a peace of mind.

  1. Make sure you are aware of all of your child’s friends. I know that sounds old-fashioned, but it works. It gives you as the parent the opportunity to get to know what type of people are attracted to your child’s personality and vice versa. It also helps you to build a relationship with your teen by being a positive and active influence in their social relationships.
  2. Safeguard your child’s computer and techie gadgets with software to block explicit material and content that can be used to capture your teen’s curious attention. Many teens click on sites out of curiosity, and once their curiosity is peeked, predators know how to lure them in.
  3. Educate your teen about internet safety. Did you know that the more information a person knows about you, the better they can locate you and entice you by deception? Make sure your tweens and teens are not posting personal information like cell phone numbers, home or street addresses, banking or credit card information, etc. on social media. Predators gather information like sponges and will use even the simplest things to reach out to your teen.
  4. Talk to your teen about entertaining strangers on social media and answering numbers that they aren’t familiar with. Educate them to never volunteer information to a caller or person on social media about themselves. If it isn’t someone that you or other family members, friends or schoolmates know, they should cut off ties with them immediately (i.e. block them, delete them, and change social media page security settings). They should never, ever go to meet someone that they don’t know. Entertaining them may seem fun and harmless, but providing information frivolously and meeting up with them can be dangerous.
  5. Make sure your teen is responsible in how they communicate with others in texting and social media posting. Posting explicit pictures of themselves can follow them a long way. Remember, whatever you post on social media or text in your phone, it becomes “airborne” and will never go away completely. Technology has a way of recording everything, and can be retrieved even after you think it’s long gone. Help them to understand that there is nothing wrong with having fun, but be mindful of the choices they make, because some of those choices can and will have lasting impressions.
  6. Get to know social media lingo. LOL, MCM (I’m just learning that one), TBH, THOT, etc. are codes that are shared in messaging and posting. As a parent, this can be a communication gap, and can be rendered as harmless teenage fun, but can be a sign of imminent danger, and a green light to a predator.

As a parent, sometimes there’s a thin line between being labeled as the meanest mom ever and the coolest mom alive. But the safety of your child is of the utmost importance, and even with something as great as technology, it can be detrimental and a thorn in your side if used inappropriately.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure they are in a safe environment that helps them to mature socially and emotionally in a positive way – even in a techie world.

(Tonya is a mother of three – including one son, is i-SAFE internet safety 
certified, as well as teacher and former spiritual youth advisor.)
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