In a fantasy world, children (of all ages) would tell their parents everything.
“I am not really sick today – I really just want to catch up on some TV!”
“Erica isn’t just my study mate – she is my girlfriend and we have been together for 6 months!’
“I know I am only 12 – but I am on Facebook and my profile says I am 20!”
It seems the older they get – the less we hear. I really miss the days when my boys were little and would share everything from their thoughts on the world to bodily functions – possibly a little too much information! But I really did feel like I knew exactly what was going on in their little lives.
But ten years on and it is a different story. My teen boys aren’t keen to share every detail – and I get it! It is very normal for teens to want some space. But this can be a problem particularly when things aren’t going so well. And the online world is no exception.
Research recently undertaken by McAfee shows that when tweens (8-12 year olds) experience a problem online or witness nasty behaviour, 71% tell their parents. But when teens experience something nasty online, only 38% tell their ‘oldies’.
So, what can we do as parents to try and help our teens whilst still respecting their space?
In my opinion, it is all about the relationship. Building a strong and communicative relationship with your children right from the start is critical. Think of it as a concrete foundation that will help you weather the inevitable teen storms but hopefully not cyclones!! If you have done the groundwork, your teens will know you ‘have their back’. If they feel safe and secure knowing you won’t overreact or permanently disconnect the Wi-Fi if they come to you with a problem – then they will ask for your help.
And if you use and understand social media, well – I think you have increased the odds of hearing from your teen dramatically. You might in fact become a regular sounding board. But make sure you don’t lose your cool and overreact!!
But of course in the real world, we all lose it from time to time – I know I do! But please, do not Scream and Shout (like will.i.am and Britney Spears) or threaten total disconnection because I guarantee you will never hear another peep from your teen when they next have a problem.
Till Next Time