We are our teens biggest role models. We shape their behavior and how they interact with their environment. (Desiree Panlilio).
The best thing parents can do to minimize the risks associated with technology is to curtail their own consumption first. It’s up to parents to set a good example of what healthy computer, smartphone, and social media usage looks like. Most of us check our phones or our email too much, out of either interest or habit. Our teens need to be used to seeing our faces, not our heads bent over a screen. Establish technology-free zones and technology-free hours when no one uses the phone. This may be a family dinner, or in the morning, get up a half hour earlier than your kids and check your email then. Then give your teen your attention as you all get ready and head out the door for the day. Don’t talk on the phone to or from school because that’s an important time to talk with your teen. Instead listen to music, engage about your day, their day or any other topic. Build the relationship.
Limiting the amount of time we as parents spend on our devices is a healthy counterpoint to the tech-obsessed world, and lets our teen see and know that they can take a break from their devices, and it is okay. We role model the behavior we want our teen to copy. If we don’t give our teens the attention and guidance they need, they will turn to the internet for help or to process whatever is going on in their life. While some of the advice may be just what they need to hear and may be helpful, it may also be harmful and not specific to your teen and does not reflect your teen’s personality and values and may be inappropriate. Make sure your teen knows that they can talk to you.
We all want our teens to be happy. A way to help your teens to build healthy self-esteem divorced from social media is to get them involved in something that they’re interested in. It could be sports, music, volunteering, anything that sparks an interest and gives them confidence. When teens learn to feel good about what they can do instead of how they look and what they own, they’re happier and better prepared for success in real life. As well, these activities involve spending time interacting with peers face-to-face and building personal relationships, friendships and connections.
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