We spend a lot of time teaching our kids how to have boundaries and to respect them. It is a simple task because we are present in the moment and we can start them young. Redirecting and teaching them to think about their actions. Then they are teenagers, on the internet, and the world changes for them. They see names on a screen but fail to think of them as people. They may say rude things. They may read horrible things about them. This doesn’t happen to all children but it’s a common phenomenon. What’s worse is that many adults are doing the same thing. Boundaries with technology are important and the teaching must alter to include it.
Moderation Is Important
One of the best ways to keep kids on a realistic plane is to moderate their internet access. This may mean that you get the cell phone at night. This may look like an hour for social media after all homework. Internet is often needed for homework so giving them personal online time helps. If a child spends a lot of time online, they lose a sense of reality. At the same time, some kids who are lonely will reach out to strangers. This opens them up to a new level of danger. Keep up with family time and talk with them. It can help keep them from dangerous connections.
You Must Have Passwords
Teenage kids have brains that are still developing. Adult responsibility comes in stages as they show they are ready to handle it. Any social media account, email account, and gaming accounts must be accessible by you. The same goes for their computers and laptops. Lots of kids feel like they aren’t trusted. It’s important to help them understand that you don’t trust the other people. Your kid can be the most trustworthy of all time, and still, fall prey to danger. If they disobey, they lose internet privileges. Don’t forget to check these accounts at random. Don’t follow a pattern and never give your child a head’s up. If they are talking to a possibly dangerous person, you don’t want them to delete anything.
Kids think we are too old to understand them. Regardless, you should connect on the social media platforms. This doesn’t mean either of you must interact with one another. It means that you can keep an eye out. Did they friend someone new? Did someone say something inappropriate to your child? Watching for patterns helps.
What If There Is Trouble?
Even if you put all these boundaries in place, there can still be a bit of trouble. Cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and pedophilia are common occurrences. The first thing to do is to talk to your child and allow them to tell you what happened. Document or screenshot everything and report to local authorities. You will want to be sure to change all social media accounts and email addresses. Don’t allow the child to use their real name, or post contact information (address, phone number, etc).