The internet is an ocean full of possibilities, some that can sink us instantly. It can be a tempting place where teens will do anything to fit in. Unfortunately, one’s online presence can influence their popularity in the real world. This is where teens may go to find their worth or prove their “coolness”. It’s all too easy to fall into the target audience or the trap of unwanted attention.
As parents, we want to protect our children at all costs. With that being said, I cannot advise you to turn off all technology and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s simply not reasonable. Technology can be a great tool and open space for healthy, encouraging discourse. But it’s all about how we use it. Handing our child a phone or laptop followed with a “Happy Birthday” isn’t enough. You should guide and teach them how to practice proper internet safety and when to disconnect.
Stop it before it’s sent
The best thing you can do it stop something before it even happens. Here are some preventative measures you can take to keep your teen from engaging in online misbehavior:
Educate and Emphasize.
Kids may not know what online behavior is acceptable. Educate them on what is appropriate and what is not. Consider sharing stats and stories that show how dangerous the internet can be. Make sure these things are addressed as unacceptable in your conversation:
• Add strangers to their follower lists
• Interact with strangers
• Disclose personal information on public forums and to strangers (i.e. full name, address, phone number, banking information, school name, when the family will be away from the house, etc.)
• Agree to meet friends only known online in person
Ask about how their friends use social media.
Teens are more likely to engage in risky online behavior when they are influenced by friends. Adolescents frequently mimic the behaviors of their peers. Discuss what your child and their friends are doing and seeing online.
Remind your teen that you trust their judgment and ability to make the right decisions. This has been shown to reduce misuse of online sources. When a child knows you trust them, they usually don’t want to break that trust.
Don’t sneak when you take a peek.
Having an open conversation eliminates the need for you to sneak behind your child’s back. There should be an ongoing open communication between you and your teen. If you want to check in on your child’s activity or want to address something you saw, do it calmly and openly. Don’t start accusing before you get their side of the story. Also, assure your child that it’s your job to make sure they are safe and staying out of trouble. It’s all because you care, not because you’re nosey.
blueFire Wilderness can help
blueFire is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students who struggle with technology addiction and other diagnosed mental health issues. The purpose of this program is to teach students conflict resolution and communication skills. The therapy model enforces them to foster their self-reliance and develop their independence. blueFire incorporates healthy activities that they can apply to their everyday lives. Students gain a greater confidence in themselves and recreate themselves to lead a healthier and happier life.
Contact us at 1-844-413-1999