As children grow, their needs change. Every parent realizes this fact early on, but during the teen years, it seems we become acutely aware of the world in which we are raising our children. With all the instant access to friends via social media networks and endless opportunities of online connections, the world can seem more troubling each day. I love digital connections, but teaching our teens to appropriately manage a digital world is extremely important.
About nine years ago, my oldest daughter was allowed to own her first cell phone. At this point in the cell phone economy,calling and texting were about the limit. Since then, social media and gaming sites have significantly broadened the reach of a cell phone user. Today I wanted to provide a few tips on parenting teens in a digital world.
1. Decide on a digital-free time zone as a family.
What works for us may not work for you;but for us, this digital-free time zone is meal times at home. I will say that we have made the exception at restaurants on occasion because waiting times have been longer than usual or the restaurant atmosphere is not conducive to conversation. Maybe your time is the last hour before bed. Decide on a family time together when everyone purposefully looks in one other’s eyes for good, old-fashioned conversation.
2. Address self-image issues with a Biblical foundation.
No matter the age of the user, online comparison is a trap just waiting to happen. You can always find someone who has a better senior photo, more friends, or a stronger sense of fashion. But when I was a teen, we only saw that someone in social settings. Now they come through the phone into your teen’s bedroom via Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat and every other social media network. Teenagers need verbal encouragement from their parents on a consistent basis in order to proactively sculpt the right Christian self-image. Feel free to use this list of Bible verses for when you feel “not good enough” to reinforce how much God loves them just as they are.
3. Set behavioral expectations for cell phone, tablet, and all electronics usage.
Making wise decisions about who you trust with very personal information is extremely important. Remembering that every digital action and reaction leaves a traceable imprint is priority.
4. Emphasize that digital access of any kind is a privilege.
Just like any other privilege, if your teen’s phone or tablet or gaming device is used inappropriately for any reason, then that privilege can be withheld.
Parenting a teen in today’s culture is challenging to say the least. My son is in middle school and he is one of the only kids in his classes who doesn’t own a cell phone. While there are many reasons for making the decision of when and how much online and media access to give to your teen, today my hope was to provide a few thoughts to stimulate proactive parenting in this tough teen area.
Recently I was introduced to a newly-released book, Rescue, Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture by Candy Gibbs. This book is packed with practical tips for not only the murky waters of technology, but also the deep waters of sex, sexting, abortion, communication, family expectations,and more. Candy is the Executive Director of CareNet Pregnancy Centers in Amarillo, TX. I’m privileged to be giving away 2 copies of this awesome book today; just follow the Rafflecopter to enter.
For more information on this wonderful resource, check it out here:
Rescue, Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture
Have a marvelous Monday!
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