Technology: How It Affects Your Relationship With Your Teen

In a previous podcast, West Ridge Academy promised you that we would be coming up with a blog focusing on teens and technology. Well, that blog post is here!

There is no question that the use of technology is on the rise in our culture. More and more people are connecting to the internet at higher speeds. Cell phones are a must-have gadget for everyone in this hectic world. No matter where we go, we are always entertained by gadgets such as iPods, Nintendo DS’s, or PSP’s. You may ask, does this advent of technology have a direct effect on our families, most especially when it comes to our relationship with our teenagers?

Teenagers are wired. It seems like they have an endless array of options at their disposal to keep them entertained and connected. West Ridge Academy child psychology experts point thatstudies show that at least 87% of all teens surveyed admit to being online, with even more claiming to have high speed connections. An estimated 9% of all 300 million Facebook users are teenagers. Research cited in July 2008 stated that 83% of teens own a cell phone and the average teen generated 50 to 70 text messages per day. Teens are definitely utilizing cyber-communication to remain in contact with their friends and family. There are pros and cons when it comes to the use of technology for communication.

New technology presents many benefits, both for teens and their parents. It is easier for teens to contact their parents if both of them carry a cellphone with them at all times. It’s very convenient for parents to constantly check on the whereabouts of their kids because of cellphones. Another simple and convenient tool for parents to communicate with their teens is through text messaging. Many cell phone companies now offer GPS services that allow parents to know the physical location of their children. Chat features of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace allow teenagers to connect with their friends as often as they want to. Tons of information may also be accessed from sites such as YouTube. One of the greatest benefits to teens is that they can exhibit their creativity by becoming content creators through blogs and online video.

Connecting with your teen is the first of the major tasks that we have been discussing in our podcasts and other blog entries. It is your responsibility as a parent to set workable and practical boundaries regarding your teen’s use of technology. Agreements such as ‘no cell phones at the dinner table’ (my 6 year old son actually came up with that agreement at our house so he would have dad’s full attention) or ‘no cell phones on our camping trip’ can give you time with your teen that is free of the distractions of technology. If you will not be able to control it, technology may pose a major stumbling block in your attempts to forge a genuine connection with your teen. By setting the right boundaries regarding the use of technology combined with the techniques which Jeff discussed in the podcasts, you will surely succeed in creating a strong and lasting connection with your teen.

There are challenges that come form overuse/misuse of these technologies. One of the biggest problems is that teens can become isolated from friends and parents. You may find it odd that we are talking about a disconnect when teens appear to be spending more of their time in front of their computers or cellphones. Establishing a connection with people online is markedly different when compared to connecting with them in person. You cannot establish eye contact online. You do not have that opportunity to exchange some physical gestures, such as a warm smile or a firm handshake. Body language and voice inflection is a huge part of communication and those elements are missed when using text messaging or chatting to communicate.

For more information visit West Ridge Academy‘s home or podcast.

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