Yesterday, I watched my nearly two-year-old daughter play around the house. It is exciting to know how much she has grown. She was all over the seats and hanging loosely on the sink calling her ‘toto’. I would sense how curious she is; her playfulness though was exposing her to risk of falling and experiencing an injury. I was somehow worried and I kept looking at her dazzled with what she was able to do but then I realize she can only learn by experiencing, the more I try to keep her safe the more aggressive she become trying to do whatever she was doing. I remained on the lookout as I monitored her and at the same time, something deeper was going through my mind.
My mind roamed around all dangers, risks exposed to her in the environment her, and her friends are growing up. I desperately wish I could protect her from everything with a simple click — but I know I cannot, and neither can you.
At her age she is pretty safe. I keep the house safe for her, we prepare her food, we choose the channel to watch her in mind and she is always outside with someone, I mean she is barely two. With all this, I am certainly sure she will turn to be a teen at some point. Keeping teens safe and responsible in the digital world is proving to be a difficult tricky affair. To succeed, it means taking advantage of what technology offers, but also relying on old-fashioned involved parenting.
Recently I have encountered parents who are concerned about giving their teens internet enabled phones. The fear is informed by uncertainity about the sites the teens will visit while browsing and what they will do in those sites.
A special report on ABC News, have this excerpt about a young girl Brooke; Brooke, now 15, got her very first personal device—an iPhone—as a 12th birthday gift. Shortly after, Brooke said, she became obsessed. “It was always about refreshing my feed and I’d stay up until like 4:30 in the morning,” Brooke said. “It was my heart. I couldn’t put it down … It felt like a part of me.”
The report continues to say how Brooke set up multiple accounts, including “like six accounts” on Instagram and multiple Snapchats and block her parents. Brooke started consuming alcohol and while she was only 13, police showed up at the family’s home to inform them that she was involved in a blackmail attempt involving her nude photos. “I think I just got to a point where I kept getting hurt,” Brooke said. “I kept doing things that I knew didn’t make me happy, but I just continued to do it because I had nothing else to do.”
According to COR “FOMO,” or “Fear of Missing Out,” is a phenomenon for teens and young adults, in which youth increasingly feel the need to stay connected to the Internet, so they are not the last to know of a news story or social happening.
What remedy do we have as parents? How do we mitigate the effects of technology and internet affecting our teens the wrong way? There are several measures, let me share with you just 3 that are easy to follow.
Be available to your teens
A scripture in Proverbs 22:6 says; ….Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
“This is not a promise to parents who bring up their children appropriately but a cautioning to those who allow their teens to grow up without guidance, who bring them up to go their own way.” Children left to their own way are not likely to change; they will become adults who go their own way and often the wrong way.
Use what technology offers
As I had said earlier, technology itself has quite a number of means how you can keep your teens safe. Some are so close while others may require you to be tech savvy. Most mobile phone have setting that allow you to set the kind of content your teen can browse ranging from normal, moderate to strict. IPhone have strong parental controls that even limit the time he or she can use the phone.
A friend of mine just shared with me how she is able to see her teens chat on WhatsApp using a mobile phone app. This helps her monitor and know what her teen is chatting about prompting necessary corrective action if extreme. Another thing is checking the phone regularly especially the browsing history which will let you know what your teen is reading or watching. If for example you notice X-rated or xxx sites on history, engaging your teen on safe browsing is very important. Have an open conversation if you notice deviance and make them appreciate the dos and don’ts while using phones and internet.
Be the role model.
My rude awakening is realizing that I have to model behaviors i expect my daughter to emulate. Sometime she annoys me in the house and unconsciously find myself clicking, shockingly I noted her clicking when annoyed by someone. I had to correct myself before I could gain authority to tell her it is inappropriate. This applies even to teens; do you have family time where no one is on phone? Where it is only the family talking about anything? This way, you model the behavior you wish your teens to grow up appreciating and carrying forward.
What are your rude awakening moments while parenting? What are you doing to ensure your children are responsible especially on the internet?