Feeling Confident When Parenting Teens with Technology

July 31, 2014 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

What parents need to know about parenting teens in the digital age and help them stay safe online.

I talk to parents about technology on a daily basis, and it’s a problem. Many parents are years behind the times and tend to give into the technology that their teen or tween is begging for. Technology can be great, but without proper guidance and supervision from parents, it can turn dangerous, even deadly. Don’t be the parent who get’s snowed by their technologically savvy teen, get empowered and feel confident.

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Technology and Teens

1. Teens crave connection. When you were growing up, you went to the mall or hung out at a friend’s house after school, or talked so much on the phone your parents had to unplug it from the wall. Connecting with friends is part of social development. Most teens are over-scheduled and stay in touch via group text or through their computers. Teach them about balance early. They can have access to their tech social time or computer for a limited time, then earn the rest. You have to teach them to unplug and be with their thoughts or interact with you face to face,

2. Help them manage their phone time. It could be hell to get them to put down the device but their future is depending on you (not school) to help them make boundaries. If cell phone use is getting in the way of family time, homework, and other responsibilities, it might be time to help your kid manage his or her phone time.

3. Model the manners and behavior you want to see. They look to you to model what's right and wrong. Avoid texting in the car and at meal times. Consider narrating your phone use or asking them to look up directions or a phone number for you. Make sure to excuse yourself if you have to interrupt a family moment to attend to your phone. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to have your child text through a meal at their friends house? No elbows on the table, no cell phones.

4. Charge your teens phones in your room at night. Even if your child sleeps for 8-10 hours, it doesn't mean their sleep quality is restorative when a digital device is next to their bed. Teens wake up often to dings and message alerts keeping them awake or disrupting their sleep. Teens more susceptible to mental health disorders, including depression, when they have access to technology in their beds. Removing their phones gives them a needed break, even if they get mad at you for it. There is evidence that all electronics can induce the fight-or-flight state, it increases dopamine meaning that they can be simulated hours afterwards. When exposed to brightness from screens the brain shuts down the sleep switch.

5. Create a healthy paranoia. Keep tabs on their social media use. Ask them to show you what they've been posting, if they appear uncomfortable it’s a sign that something isn't right. Friend them the sites they interact on and let them know if they do download apps or create these profiles, you have the right to check from time to time. The bottom line is, if they are doing something inappropriate on these sites, it falls back to you, legally. Also, it helps you feel confident that they are acting appropriately online.

The internet is a highway to anything and everything, with very few maps along the way. You wouldn't give your teen the keys to the car without drivers education so don’t give them a phone or internet access without educating them on how to use it in a smart and safe way. Just like car accidents, what happens online can be dangerous, and even deadly. Do you feel confident about your teen's technology use? How do you set boundaries in your home? Please comment below and let us know.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2014, July 31). Feeling Confident When Parenting Teens with Technology, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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