Connecting with Teens through Technology

Thursday, August 06 at 10:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance

They are here, there, everywhere. They are in backpacks, on bedroom nightstands and desktops, at dinner tables. They are electronic gadgets — cell phones, iPods, tablets, and laptops — and they have given birth to a whole new age of communication and parenting. And while these versatile devices can do so many things to distract your children, they can do something very positive: They can better connect you to your child.

How is that possible?
Well, to begin, social media and texting seem to be a popular way for most teens to share their feelings and thoughts. As a result, some kids may prefer to discuss things with their parents through written communication. Your child may not tell you what's bothering them face-to-face but may be willing to communicate with you via text.

If you do communicate with your child via text, take a crash course in texting language. There is a whole method of texting shorthand that you'll need to understand. For example, if your child texts you TNX, that means they are actually thanking you (a testament to your lessons on manners). If your teen is in a really good state of mind, you might even get an ILY (I love you). For assistance with decoding this unique language, visit netlingo.com.* You just might impress your child as a parent who is "with it."

Another way to connect with your children is to become "friends" with them on social media. Many teens do not want their parents "friending" them; however, you can make this a stipulation for allowing younger teens to utilize these sites. If you do so, you and your child should establish ground rules about what you're allowed to do as their friend. For example, your child may not want you commenting on their posts or photos, nor may they appreciate you posting embarrassing childhood photos of them. By becoming part of your child's social network, you will learn more about their likes and interests, and the friends with whom they spend time.

Of course, one of the most obvious advantages of technology is that it gives your child the ability to get in contact with you wherever you and they are. This is especially important if your child is uncomfortable in a certain situation or is in need of help.

Beyond the serious stuff, you can use technology to be playful with your children. Challenge them to word and other games online. In doing so, you'll accomplish two key parental goals — learning and parental interaction.

In the right hands, technology can bring you closer.
Of course, technology can never replace the importance of physical contact with your children. Clearly, virtual hugs aren't as fulfilling. However, if technology is used to complement the face-to-face time you spend with your child and you both utilize it respectfully, it can be a powerful tool that brings you closer together. And that's what successful parenting is all about.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution. 

Tags: Technology
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