Parental Supervision Doesn't Have to Feel Like Teen Imprisonment

Apr 13, 2012

Tags: , ;

Curious by nature, children and teens seek to learn everything. But a smart parent wouldn't allow a child to ride a bike without a helmet; they know what painful consequences can ensue.

With as much media coverage as we have about the dangers lurking on the Internet, parents understand the potential risks. So why do some parents allow their children to roam freely, exploring any and all Web content? Other than teens, who said teens don't need supervision? :-)

As much as teens despise being controlled and monitored, parents cannot forgo supervision. Recent research shows that lower levels of parental monitoring increases levels of participating in risky behaviors by teens.

Biologically, an adolescent's brain is not completely developed until his/her early 20's. No matter how mature a teenager might be, the prefrontal cortex requires adequate time to fully develop. Decision making, impulse control, risk assessment, and judgment are all traits that teenagers are still gaining as time goes on.

With these areas still under development, teens are susceptible to making risky decisions while social networking. In addition, new technology like smartphones, tablets, and laptops make it harder for parents to monitor what their children do. It creates difficult situations for parents to protect their children. However, parents have to feel powerless.

Teach a child the "why" first, then the "how." No teenager enjoys being lectured by an adult. Have an equal-ground conversation. Ask about sites they like to visit and how often. Consider your child's interests and then give legitimate reasons for why they should abide by your proposed rules.

Understanding and trust are essential in protecting children online. This stuff really works.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.