November 10, 2010

Tweens, Teens and Screens

Went to a recent PTA meeting at the middle school. Little did I realize
I would be turning that meeting into a blog post.

The meeting talked to parents about the ever changing land of technology
and the role our kids (and us) play in that land.

Kids primary way of connecting is through technology.

Here are some statistics:

84% have internet access at home
66% have a cell phone
70% have a TV in their bedroom
29% Have a laptop

Kids between the age of 8-18 years of age spend up to
53 hours a week in
front of some type of screen
(computer, cell phone, tv, hand held game, game console, ipad)

That's as much as 7 hours a day...
add texting and it's as much as 10 hours a day

I thought I'd share the nuggets I personally got out of the meeting:

1. As parents, it's better to provide guidelines, limits and consequences
rather than lay down the hammer with rules regarding technology.
In fact, having a family meeting and deciding together is the most effective
way of ensuring all will actually follow those guidelines.

2. Kids NEED direction and limits up front...despite what you may think,
parents remain the greatest influence in your teen's life...
use that influence in a positive way.

3. Make sure your computer is centrally located and not behind walls or doors,
especially in bedrooms.

4. When it comes to your kids having a social network account,
make sure you are a FRIEND of your kids and you know their password.

5. Warn your kids of posting personal information online
(phone numbers and addresses)

6. When the appropriate age, NOT letting your teen have a FB account
could have a negative effect socially.
Technology isn't going anywhere. Walk into the light...

7. Be proud of turning off electronics during dinner
and perhaps even 30 minutes before bedtime.

8. Inform your kids to "expect" any parent to read what they are writing on Facebook.

9. Don't accept a "friend" you do not personally know.
Define the word know and friend.

10. Be knowledgeable and conservative with privacy settings.

11. Create a family SOS text for your teenager when they need help.
"I lost my contact" means come get questions asked.
Respect that.

12. Continually educate yourself with the technology your kids use:
visit their favorite websites regularly.

Navigating through the world of technology can be a very scary thing,
even for adults.

It's our job to walk our teenagers through this uncharted territory
with character, caution and good decision.

Here are some additional resources available to help:
Web Filters
(Check game and movie ratings for age appropriate media)
National Center for Missing & Exploited children
Online Safety & civility
raising digital kids
family guide to video games

Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age
The Plug-In Drug
Negotiation Generation

This is serious stuff.
I got a lot out of that meeting.
Came home, sat down with my girls and
discussed much of what is in this blog post.

Hopefully we all think of these things as we watch our kids spend
hours in front of monitors and screens.

Let me know if you have further tips on
how you monitor technology in your home
and if you have found this post useful.

As always, thanks for visiting.


  1. This is a powerful post and who better to say it than a mother of three teens. Love it!

  2. Thanks, P. Appreciate the vote of confidence. Have a great day.

  3. Great info!

    Here's a new one we're dealing with: XBOX Live. Our XBox is connected to the wireless network so the kids can play their video games with their friends. They even talk to each other. One of the boys was playing with a friend of a friend the other day, whom he had never actually met. I've told him so many times not to do that because you don't really know if that person is who they say they are. Kids are so naive, even when you tell them the rules, you have to check in and observe.

  4. Mrs. Jones, they actually mentioned this very thing in the session and it's not such a bad gig. You can actually hear them, thus monitor, what goes on. As long as your presence is not far, this seemed to be okay, as long as basic rules were observed.
    Thanks for the comment.