Why Teens Should Talk To Parents About What They Do Online

Here’s a novel idea for teens: talk to your parents – honestly – about what you do online.

We talk all the time about parents taking a genuine interest in what their teens are doing online. It’s essential for parents to get up to speed, or at least as close as they can get. Just yesterday we wrote about a recent FOSI study that revealed an interesting data point – the average parent of teens admits to knowing less about technology than their teens do.

teen-internet-talkAs a teen, much of your online activity is probably a mystery to your parents. They might have friended you on Facebook, or know that you like Instagram, but they probably have almost no idea about most of the apps and social media sites you use, and why. If you’re up to no good, you might think this is a good thing.

Well, you shouldn’t be up to no good, online or in person. By that we mean doing really bad things, like cyberbullying, making racist or homophobic comments, threats of physical injury and the like. The things that you put online can be permanent, and follow you around like a dark cloud for years in the future. Just because your parents don’t know that you’re doing bad things online doesn’t make it okay.

As for the not-quite-so-bad-things, your parents probably don’t have any idea about those either – the joking, needling and the stupid-funny things.

There is a third group of online activities – things that are harmless or positive. If your parents don’t know about those, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

It is a good idea to get them up to speed on what you do online. Here’s why:

They might get off your back – Even if they are not constantly badgering you about it, they probably think you spend way too much time online. If they have some idea of what you’re doing, and some of it is positive, they’ll be less likely to hound you about your online time.

A second opinion – Since what you’re posting online could be there forever, have you thought about how it looks to other people? A parent’s view about your online profiles and what you’re posting could be invaluable. You might not want the first adult who sees the online you to be a college admissions officer or a prospective employer.

They might be able to help – Your parents are ahead of you by 20 – 30 years in terms of life experience. There are times when you’re going to need help either doing something (any idea how I…?) or reacting to something (cyberbullying, identity theft). The help you need might be living under the same roof.

You might get new electronics – If you don’t think you need a new phone or laptop now, you will soon. Your parents have more money than you do. If they have a positive view of what you’re doing with your electronics, they’re more likely to agree to that upgrade when you need it.

Remember that your parents are not the enemy; they are in fact your most loyal supporters. By giving them a real window into what you do online, you can both put them at ease and in some cases make your life a little better.


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