Getting your kids off-line
Let’s face it — at any given moment of the day, if you want to guess what your teen is doing you have a very high probability of guessing correctly if you suspect that they are on some form of social media. And yes, we the parents may be doing the same.
Consider these statistics:
1. 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online.
2. Smartphone use among this age group has increased rapidly, from 23% in 2011 to 37% in 2013.
3. 9 out of 10 online teenagers say they have used Social Media.
4. Of teens on Social Media, 91% post photos of themselves. 71% list the city or town where they live, as well as their school name. 53% post their email address and 20% post their phone number.
Sources: PewResearch Internet Project, Act for Youth
Given this data, what’s a parent to do… assuming that we want our kids to get some sunlight, communicate in person at least some of the time, and that we want their daily lives to include a healthy balance of physical, social, and other stimulating activities?
Here are some ideas based on the activities of many parents who have addressed this problem successfully:
1. Model a balanced daily schedule yourself. Your teens are watching you very closely and if you are constantly plugged in electronically then you certainly can’t expect your teens to do otherwise. After all, you are their most influential role model.
2. Charge their cell phones outside of their bedrooms, so they are not up until the wee hours of the night texting. Most teens are already sleep-deprived, right?
3. Set a limit on the amount of time that they can spend on their computers. Yep, they may get angry at you for setting this limit, but absorbing our teens’ anger is what parents are supposed to do. Remember we are their parents, not their friends.
4. Get their passwords, so that you can monitor their use of Facebook because lots of conflicts start there. Yes, they will be resistant but hey, you bought the computer, right? And, your goal is to look out for your kids’ safety, correct?
5. Consider access to the various forms of social media a privilege not a right. If they abuse it then they lose it for a specified amount of time.
I can assure you that this will be very effective. Good luck as you help your kids navigate their digital lives. It may not be easy, but many other aspects of parenting are also not easy.
(BTW, if you’re wondering how many adults use Social Media, here’s the stat: 73% of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind. 42% of online adults use multiple social networking platforms.)