About the Family Computer for Teens
Teens are digitally connected in ways their parents may never have imagined. They have cell phones, MP3 players, cameras, video cameras, handheld gaming systems, netbooks, consoles and still more devices that talk to each other and access the Internet. Putting a Internet filter on your family computer is no long a sufficient way of helping your teen navigate the possibilities and pitfalls of Internet use.
Safety and Health
By now, let's hope your teen knows better than to post their personal information in public spaces. Afterall, they're a savvy group. The parenting focus at this age should be on responsible behavior while online. If you haven't already, you'll want to talk with them about cyberbullying
and the type of image they want to project to the world. There are some very serious repercussions to inappropriate behavior online and your teen should be aware of this fact.
Games and Software
If your teen likes playing video games, chances are that they know more about what's available than you do. If you are doing the shopping, look for software and games with an E (Everyone)
, E10 (Everyone 10+)
rating from the ESRB
. Games with an M (Mature) rating tend to have more extreme violence and sexuality. Remember that teens who like gaming most likely hang out with other teens who like gaming, and that you have no control over the games available in other locations. Your best bet is to chat with your teen about any concerns you may have without being judgmental or lecturing. If you have younger kids in your house, look for games that will appeal to a cross-section of ages, such as puzzle and sports games.
By now your Teen is probably a member in at least one social networking site. Since they access quite a bit of content from phones, friends' computers, console game systems, etc., you have a lot less control over what they are seeing and sharing with others. Show interest in what your kids are doing without hovering, and they may just let you into their online worlds. "Friending" your teen on social networking sites (if they'll let you) is actually a nice way to stay connected without being overly intrusive.
Gadgets and Tools
Tweens are gadget hounds. From cellphones and iPods to PSPs and DSi's, tweens like to have the latest and greatest. Parents should remember that most devices today are Internet-capable, so your Internet safety
efforts won't be limited to just your family computer. The good news? Many of these devices are capable of a variety of functions, so you probably won't have to buy them all.
Tweens have an unlimited supply of creativity. Give them a digital camera and some editing software and expect amazing results. If your tween looks a little stuck, make sure to offer your help!