Just about all American kids are immersed in media-related activities. Television, social media, video games, movies, radio, music, the Internet, books, magazines, and newspapers can all be accessed through their handheld devices. Excessive access to these resources or an inability to self-monitor can prove harmful to some teens. Take care to watch for warning signs of poor physical or mental health in your child.
Be an eParent®! Monitor your child’s social media sites, online gaming forums and apps on their smartphones or tablets. Look for red flags that might suggest that something is not right; for example, being bullied, exposed to inappropriate content or unsafe disclosure of personal information.
Research shows that the use of media consumes more time than school, most of which occurs without parents around. There is also an element of addiction that can occur. That is why it is important for parents to observe and discuss, as well as plan and limit teens’ electronic media use. To help parents address issues regarding their teens’ electronic media usage, researchers and advocates suggest:
- Listening to, taking an interest in, and learning about teens’ choices in music, entertainment, and other media.
- Discussing the school’s use of media in the classroom and policy around homework and technology usage. Ask the teachers directly if your teen is unsure.
- Discussing with teens the messages being conveyed in entertainment and news media, while also encouraging critical thinking and media literacy skills.
- Establishing family policies about media use like a cell phone agreement or a social media agreement.
- Keeping computers and television sets in central locations rather than private spaces.
- As your child grows, gradually allow greater freedom with technology usage.