The holidays are drawing to a close, and now your teenager is devoting time and energy to new electronic devices. It seems like she’s tweeting, facebooking her day away, and you only see the side of her head as she’s walking away texting. How do you get a word in edgewise through all of this technological chatter? Social media doesn’t have to be the enemy pushing you out of your teen’s life. Here are a few tips for becoming more involved in your technology connected teen’s life.
- Subscribing on Facebook: According to the Pew Internet and Resource American Life Project, 93 percent of teens use Facebook as their primary social media outlet. As we told you in an earlier article, Facebook does allow you to subscribe to public messages on its site. This means you can receive all of the public messages your child is putting out there in cyberspace. As an added bonus, if your child is may be putting too much information out there, you can advise him on that as well.
- Join the conversation in other social media outlets: Don’t forget there’s other sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr where your teen can post updates, upload videos and pictures to the internet. Become familiar with these sites yourself. Talk to your teens about the sites they visit and what they like to do on the internet. This would also be a good way to segment into talking about inappropriate sites they may visit. Keep tabs on your kid’s internet use by using web browser tools and software designed to block certain sites. Also, many cell phone companies offer options to monitor the sites your teen visits. Check with your provider.
- Set boundaries: Try to keep and enforce certain rules for utilizing social media such as: “No phones during dinner.” If you’re family is having dinner, everyone has to put their phones away. That includes you, Mom and Dad. As you know, your teens will be the first to point out any discrepancies in behavior. It’s part of their charm. Also, having a set time for family time on the weekend could be helpful too. You can set up Facebook events for family time, and send your teen a private e-vite (electronic invitation) as a reminder. And even in this technologically advanced world, homework and house chores exist. Time limits for completing their work before their play will assist in stopping social media from being just useless time suckers.
- You want to say it: text it: It may seem silly, but sometimes it’s easier to just text your teen when you want to talk to him or her, especially if their out with friends. You don’t necessarily have to use the teen abbreviations, but it’ll be an easy way to keep a constant conversation going with your child. Think of it as an advanced way of passing notes.
Tell us about your experiences. Do you think its possible to use (or not use) the media in ways to draw your family closer? How are you using social media to get closer to your teen?