• Spencer

Are you smarter than a teenager? Three simple ways to monitor your child's activities & progress!

Hey bloggers! I hope you guys are staying healthy, motivated and SANE out there! Today I want to touch base on something that our generation and those superseding us has zero experience in. Now I know as “parents'' and as “adults”, we like to hang our hat on our “life experiences”, when we engage and support our children, especially as they start their teenage journey. Well, what happens when we don’t have the experience to fallback on and we have to navigate waters that our teens and pre-teens are submerged in on a daily basis? If you are still wondering what I am talking about, I am speaking about the almighty social media elephant that stands in the corner of everyone’s room and no one really wants to deal with it, regardless of how toxic it can be to our children’s lives as well as ours! In today’s world a whole new language, system of communication, and virtual verbiage exist for communication. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, SnapChat, Twitter and Youtube are the social media gods with a million demo apps that are waiting in the wind for the next trend. In a land of GTFOH, ROTFL, JK, IKR, a day ordering off of a menu in a foreign country without an interpreter sometimes sounds much more like a hurdle we want to conquer. The reality is, once we give our children with the convenience of a cell phone, we are signing our children’s innocence away and willing to accept that everything this world has to offer has now been placed into your child’s hands! So what can you do? What can we do? Have no fear, I’ve done some pretty intense research, (remember the 70,010 hours and counting of hands on teenage experience I mentioned in my prior blog) and below are three steps that as parents we can take to help keep our children safe, responsible, and accountable for what awaits them!

Rule #1 Boundaries

Your children have to understand that their cell phone is an extension of your home and you expect the same respect that they use in your home to be used on while using their cell phones and every other piece of technology that exists in our world today. What this means as parent’s, that periodical checks of their phone messages, social media accounts and any other app or account they may create. This may seem invasive, but ask yourself would you rather be the “nosy” parent, or the completely unaware parent whose child is exploring pornography, derogatory content, or even being prey on by some creep in social media land.

Rule #2 Structure

Your teens need structure. Even with cell phone usage and access. Designated times of usage of their technology can help you monitor their use and minimize the impact that social media can have on their day to day existence. Structure around usage can be as simple as no phone before school, controlled usage after school and phones being put away after a certain hour during school days. As a Dean at a middle school, you wouldn’t believe the amount of teens that stay up until the wee hours of the morning on their phones.

Rule #3 Academic Support

If you haven’t come to grips with it yet, the world of online/ virtual learning could very well become a stable in our lives. Most educational platforms provide a parent alert option of some sort. You may have to have them log on and have them invite you directly, but the option typically appears. My teenagers are using a combination of Google Classroom. Edgenuity, and Khan Academy. All of these platforms are equipped with the option to have you as the parent receive notification of their progress. Daily and weekly progress check-ins with your teen’s academic progress helps with accountability and shows your child that you are actively paying attention.

In closing, technology today is a gift and a curse. As adults, we typically find ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes to how teens are navigating through this world of phone apps, social media sites, and text messaging. In order to survive and ensure that our teens are being held accountable, we as parents have to take an extra step in establishing boundaries, monitoring, and creating structure around usage.

Until next time, Spence

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