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Safety Vs. Privacy? How to Approach Your Child...

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Do you remember the early toddler years when everything a child asked was “why”?

In some twist of irony or fate, it often feels that our teens have regressed back to questioning everything with “why?”. The only thing different is their height and now they are potty trained. Everyday feels like we are being questioned about this or that. While we knew being a parent wasn’t going to be easy, there are times it feels like we were given an impossible task when our children hit puberty. Suddenly, we are faced with hormones, emotions, and a resurgence in questioning everything and a testing of limits.

“Why do I need a midnight curfew? Why do I need to wear the school dress code? Why do I need to shave? Why can’t I go to the movies? Why do I need to clean my room?”

Why? Why?? WHY???

This need to question all of a parent’s methods and concerns often puts us at odds with our children, especially when parents want to be involved with a child’s social media and cell phone activity. Our teens balk at the first hint of a parent friending them online or wanting to know their passwords. Suddenly, we become public enemy number one and our adolescents retreat farther into their bedrooms away from us.

Privacy Versus Safety: What Do Parents Need To Know?

Teens typically place a lot of value in privacy and for good reason. Child development experts believe privacy is crucial in helping children develop their own self-identity. This alone time or personal space is needed for forming goals, reflecting on beliefs, and understanding the man or woman they are becoming.

Suddenly our bubbly tweens who loved to hang with mom or dad, are seeking autonomy from the family and are beginning the process of becoming independent. This desire to exclude parents in their activities, coupled with a surge of hormones, forms the perfect recipe for parental snooping, sneaking, and the honing of our sleuthing skills.

Why?

Because, parents understand that our teens’ love of all things digital poses some very real threats to our child’s safety. We have seen the statistics on cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators. Knowing a teen’s desire for privacy and our need to keep a child safe can find parents struggling with ways to approach the touchy subject of monitoring a child’s online and cellphone activity.

A Parent’s Guide To Talking About Mobile Monitoring

Experts and technology gurus stress that it is vital for parents to be honest from the beginning that we will be monitoring our child’s activity. They recommend pointing out we are concerned with their safety and we don’t trust the people on the other end of the touchscreen. By being upfront and truthful, we can avoid a lot of negativity from the start.

Here are five suggestions to help approach a child when having the monitoring talk:

  • Let them know cell phones and handheld devices are a privilege.

  • Stress that we do trust them and we feel they are mature enough to handle this type of responsibility.

  • Arm them with information about the possible dangers of oversharing, sexting, or posting the wrong items onto social media. Take this moment to stress the permanence of the Internet and how easy it is to have compromising photos or posts leaked.

  • Clearly outline rules, expectations, and the consequences for cell phone and technology use. Seek their input and work together on creating house rules or a contract.

  • Develop a partnership with your child. This will involve creating an open line of communication that includes listening to their concerns and validating their ideas. Allow their voice to be heard and together you can prepare your teen to form his or her digital presence.

Sitting down and having the mobile monitoring talk is difficult, but it is necessary so we can build an open and honest relationship with our teens. This talk should be ongoing and relevant to the sites, apps a child is using, or stories in the media. Be prepared for a lot of why’s and whines, but rest assured that we are taking the necessary steps to safeguard our families in the digital age.

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