My Advice For Teenagers and Technology
by new contributor Karen Stubbs
Throughout history, teenagers have always been influenced by culture, music, and peers. Now, with the acceleration of technology, our teenagers are being influenced in ways that are seemingly out of control. With technology, our teens can search any and every subject under the sun, within seconds. Teens are now communicating through texts instead of verbal conversations. Not to mention, the pornography industry who is taking complete advantage of these young minds and exploiting them like never before. To be sure, technology changes the way we parent and has forced us to “stay on top of” trends, apps, social media, etc… What are we to do? We can’t lock our child in a room and throw away the key. How do we parent in a constant changing culture of social media/internet without allowing fear to take over?
Don’t parent out of fear
Always keep in mind that you as a mom should never parent out of fear. John tells us in I John 4:18, “ There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” In reading this verse, I learn, as a parent, I have to constantly guard my heart from being fearful with my teenager. If I allow the “what if’s” to play out in my mind, my teen will feel as if they are constantly being punished and will more than likely rebel. I need to resist fear and cling to wisdom.
Parent out of wisdom
How do I parent out of wisdom? James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” This verse needs to be my motto as a mom of a teenager. My prayer everyday should be, “God, I do NOT know what I am doing!!! I do not know how to navigate these hormone driven days. I do not know how to build my child up with encouraging words and yet still parent. Give me wisdom! God, I am begging You to show me the way.” Ladies, if you will pray this prayer, God will answer your prayer.
Secondly, ask wise counsel from other parents who have been where you are and have come out on the other side of these years. People always say, “hindsight is 20/20,” therefore, talk to someone who has hindsight.
Since you know our culture is moving at a rapid pace, do your homework as a mom, and educate yourself on the various pitfalls for your child. If you have a son, you should put guards on the computers in your home that will alert you if pornography sites are being viewed. You can also put these alerts on your child’s smart phone as well. When our children were teens, we kept the computer in an open area in the house, where people were walking back and forth, and the temptation to secretly look for things was made difficult- almost impossible.
- Monitor Computer History
- As a parent, get an Instagram, Twitter and Facebook account
- Follow your child on all social media and follow their friends
- Put limits on the use of the cell phone, i.e.: no cell phones at the dinner table, texting stops after a certain time, no computer or cell phone during homework time
Keep open communication
Your teen is learning and growing- they will mess up from time to time, which is very normal and natural. Keep communication open between you and your child so that when a mistake is made, your teen feels comfortable to talk to you about the situation and will not feel judged by you. You are still the parent and you do not need to be afraid to punish or reprimand your child, but you can do that in a loving way. Always let your child know that you are there for them and that no matter what they do in life, you love them unconditionally.
Wise tips concerning communication
- When you are following your child and their friends, keep communication open by asking good questions concerning different posts
- Teach your child, that if you can read their posts, then the whole world is also reading their posts, future employers, etc. Teach them to watch their words.
- If you see that a friend of theirs on Twitter is going down a bad path, ask your child what’s going on in their world.
- Teenagers like to talk at night- be ready, even at midnight, to have open conversations.
Technology is an undeniable part of our world today. We need not be afraid of technology’s influence on our teenagers, but be wise with our parenting in the midst of it. God will more than equip you with the wisdom needed. Yes, these teenage years are challenging, but they are also fleeting–enjoy these precious days with your son or daughter!
eek, I’m glad I don’t need to make these decisions for a few years!
Very timely, especially the first two points. A good reminder that in this battle, God’s in control! My 14yo stepson informed us he is viewing porn on his smartphone (he disabled the filter). A for honesty, I guess. Thankful he can share with us and we were able to reinstall the filter with a stronger code!