Joining your teenagers on Facebook improves your relationship

Although I’m sure many teenagers would disagree, the Huffington Post is reporting that parents who friend their teenage children on Facebook enjoy a stronger relationship than those who don’t.

There’s a new study out of Brigham Young University that says engaging with your kids on social media sites helps strengthen your bond. The study found that teens who were the most connected to their parents on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media felt closer to them in real life. Those teens were also less likely to be depressed, delinquent or behave aggressively.

However, article author Ann Brenoff states that

I am unconvinced of the value of parent-teen bonding versus the potential harm of a misstep by a kid on social media. Learning to use social media safely and appropriately is a process. Some kids get it and some kids will learn it the hard way. For now, I will continue to monitor my kids’ online gaming activities, perform spot Instagram checks just like the spot urine tests given athletes — all the while teaching my kids about what is safe and appropriate “sharing” with real and virtual friends. The Internet is full of land mines and parents shouldn’t need social media to talk to their children about it or anything else.

Read the whole article here.

How parents normalised teen password sharing – danah boyd

Social media and internet researcher danah boyd (featured on this blog in posts entitled Parental stalking online ‘unwise’ and Privacy in networked publics) has researched the teenage phenomenon of password sharing.

boyd says she has found the origins of password sharing, which is

The idea of teens sharing passwords didn’t come out of thin air. In fact, it was normalized by adults. And not just any adult. This practice is the product of parental online safety norms. In most households, it’s quite common for young children to give their parents their passwords. With elementary and middle school youth, this is often a practical matter: children lose their passwords pretty quickly. Furthermore, most parents reasonably believe that young children should be supervised online. As tweens turn into teens, the narrative shifts. Some parents continue to require passwords be forked over, using explanations like “because I’m your mother.” But many parents use the language of “trust” to explain why teens should share their passwords with them.

This is an important article for parents to read. Click here for the full text.

Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

Social media blog Mashable has published a Q & A with Scott Steinberg, author of parenting book called The Modern Parent’s Guide. Scott addresses social media pitfalls in this interview.

Topics include:

  • How has technology changed parenting?
  • How can parents best protect their children from online threats while respecting their privacy?
  • A wide range of products monitor children on their mobile phones and the Internet. Where is the line between appropriate supervision and spying? Is there one?
  • What rules do you have in your house regarding technology use?
  • Sites like Facebook and Twitter technically don’t allow users under the age of 13, but many tweens lie about their age in order to sign up anyway. As a parent, should you prevent your children from signing up for such sites, even if their friends are using them? If so, what are some alternative sites they can use?
  • What is a reasonable amount of time for children to spend interacting with a screen each day?

5 lessons for parenting in the digital age

Mashable has an excellent article addressing the etiquette of digital device use:

Parents of older children face challenges — for instance, whether it’s acceptable for their teen to text at the dinner table, or whether it’s tolerable for a teen to peer at his laptop when someone is trying to address him. Essentially, we wonder, just how much technology should be allowed in our lives and those of our kids?

Few parents are going to completely forbid their children from interacting with today’s amazing gadgetry. However, it’s essential that we focus on a conscious, rather than habitual, use of modern technology.

The article looks at:

  • Technology no longer has boundaries
  • Know when to cut it off
  • The difference between preference and addiction
  • Focus on technology that truly connects us to our kids
  • Model the balance.

Many adults have difficulties moderating online use, so it follows that children and young adults may also have problems. Guidance and discussion about the role of ever-present media in our lives is vital.