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Managing Teen Privacy

 

Did you know that after a relationship ends, 22 percent of teens say their former significant other used the Internet to say bad things about them? It’s true. How about this scary statistic? Thirteen percent of teens say that their current significant partner demands that they share their Internet and Email passwords with them.

Managing teen privacy can be tricky. We want and encourage independence but need to be aware of the dangers that can interfere with their ability to have a good and healthy life.  

Too little monitoring can leave teenagers without the support they need to make safe decisions about behavior and relationships. But too much monitoring can send the message that you don’t trust your child. 

So, stay connected with your child but keep it low key. When you have consistent, daily connections and communication, your child is more likely to share what he or she is up to. Being aware and available when your child needs you is key to building trust and staying informed.

As a parent, know it’s ok to set rules, guidelines and boundaries for your child. They expect it and want it…although they may never admit it. Here’s a sample of perfectly acceptable rules:

  • If you or your partner can’t be there when your child comes home from school, ask him to call to let you know he’s home. This is a reasonable request.
  • Set ground rules about what your child can do in his or her spare time. 
  • Be aware of what your child is reading, watching on TV and doing on the computer or internet.
  • When your children are younger, start setting expectations about what type of information you need to know. Your child will be more likely to comply as he or she gets older if you establish the rules early in life. 

 

But sometimes it’s hard to set the rules because it’s hard to get the conversation started. Here’s some tips for staying engaged with your child:

  • When your child starts a conversation, stop what you are doing and listen. 
  • Sit down to a family dinner as often as possible. 
  • Try to be aware of what your child is doing and how he’s behaving. 
  • Keep a general eye on school progress, homework and deadlines without micromanaging your child’s every move. Be involved and stay connected with your child’s teachers.
  • Get to know your child’s friends and give them a space in your home. Communicating with the parents of your child’s friends can also help you keep track of your child, his or her friends and what’s going on in their lives.
  • It’s OK to ask your child “Where were you?” or “Where are you going?” but try to avoid breaking your child’s trust or invading his privacy. 

 

Sara Listar-Guest, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Outpatient Services, Southwest Behavioral & Health Service
For more information about managing teen privacy, visit the Southwest Behavioral & Health Service website at www.sbhservices.org.

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