10+ Tips for Starting a Digital Dialogue with Teens

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10+ Tips for Starting a Digital Dialogue with Teens

November 16, 2016
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Table of Contents

With most teens being technology experts, parents don’t know what to look for to keep their family safe online. In this panel discussion, 6 experts share techniques for eliminating dangerous online behavior, how to empower your children to teach you about tech and examples for how you can use online activities to bond as a family.

Here are some tips on how to start a digital dialogue with teens:

  • Dangerous online behavior needs to be eliminated early on
  • Consider approaching online behavior as a family system, from the beginning, to avoid establishing any dangerous online habits. Lead by example and give your family the foundation it needs to make smart and safe decisions online.
  • Let your children teach you about technology
  • Most teens are digital experts. Spend time learning more about the different apps and sites your teen likes to use. As your teen guides you through their favorite online activities, share in the experience together.
  • Take interest in your teen’s online activity
  • Showing interest in your teen’s online behavior creates an opportunity for you to bond together. Generally, teens will be excited to show you their favorite things online or to explain a game they like. Continually check in with your teen and create a routine of sharing in technology and spending time together.

How can schools and parents work together to prevent problems from happening around technology and in the digital world?

Parents can approach this as a family system, from the beginning, to help prevent online problems. –Howard Barker
Headshot of Howard Barker
Howard Barker, Community Liaison
Clear Recovery Ctr.

Parents are constantly asking, “What can I do to prevent problems from arising online?” The hard answer is that dangerous online behavior has to be eliminated early on. If you have a 17 year old that is already engaging in dangerous online behavior, then you have 17 years of family dynamics and behaviors that need to change. Parents can approach this as a family system, from the beginning, to help prevent online problems. –Howard Barker, Community Liaison, Clear Recovery Center

Have a conversation with teens about how to handle the Internet outside of your home. –Mercedes Samudio

Parents themselves do not always know what they should be looking out for. We need to educate parents early on that kids have access to almost every Internet device, even if you don’t have it in your home, they can get access at their friend’s house or find WiFi at a local store. You need to have a conversation with teens about what to do and how to handle technology outside of your home. –Mercedes Samudio, The Parenting Skill

Headshot of Jason Ickovitz
Jason Ickovitz
Therapist
Pilgrim School

How can parents have a difficult conversation with their kids when they maybe don’t know as much about the digital world?

If you are not familiar with what is happening, ask your kid to help you. –Jason Ickovitz

What you have in your home is an expert in the digital world. If you are not familiar with what is happening, ask your kid to help you. “What is Instagram? Can you help me set up a profile?” Let them be the teacher and share in the experience. –Jason Ickovitz, Pilgrim School

Parents have anxiety over technology because they feel that they are not up to speed as their kids are. –Dolly Klock
Headshot of Dolly Klock
Dolly Klock, MDOwnerAdolessons

Parents have so much anxiety over technology because they feel that they are not up to speed as their kids are. Often, parents forget that they have years of experience and wisdom that can be used to teach their children how to be good digital citizens. –Dolly Klock, MD, Adolessons

The best way to gauge the values of teens and kids is to ask them. –Dr. Casey Weinstein
Headshot of Dr. Casey Weinstein
Dr. Casey Weinstein, TherapistPrivate Practice

The best way to gauge the values of teens and kids is to ask them. As a school counselor, if I ask students to explain Minecraft to me their faces light up. You have to be authentic, but ask about the things that you don’t know yet because they love teaching adults. –Dr. Casey Weinstein, Family Therapist, Psychotherapist

What advice would you give to moderators when it comes to seeing behaviors such as anorexia and self-injury online?

The priority should always be kid’s safety, especially when you are talking about minors. Think about ways to ensure that kids have a safe environment online and what to do when unsafe behavior takes place in that environment. –Jason Ickovitz, Pilgrim School

Headshot of Mercedes Samudio
Mercedes Samudio, Parenting Coach The Parenting Skill

We should empower our kids to report and teach them how and when to do it. It’s important for us to tell our kids that if they or their friends are having problems to report that. –Mercedes Samudio, The Parenting Skill

What are some great success stories that you have seen?

In one of my parenting groups, we were talking about having fun with your kids and enjoying technology. I said, “Act interested in something that they are doing.” The parent came back the next week and she noticed her son was watching YouTube videos. She said, “Pick the funniest one that you have seen” and he was happy to show her. So now every night they share something that they found on YouTube and for the first time they had this connection. Their relationship improved immediately after that. –Dr. Casey Weinstein, Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychotherapist

This post is an excerpt from the 2017 Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers, and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world.

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