Communicating with Digital Technology

It can be tough keeping up with kids and new ways to communicate. Most parents have a handle on e-mail, but things like texting, Facebook, and instant messaging might be a little less clear. Because it’s becoming increasingly common for kids to communicate with these methods, it’s important to understand how your child is using these technologies.

  • If you need an explanation of how digital technologies and how kids might be using them, visit theantidrug.com’s Crash Course for Parents to get a quick introduction to some of the ways that teens are using new technologies.
  • Set clear limits on your children’s technology use, and make sure that your kids know the consequences for going over the limits.
  • Monitor your kids’ use of social networking sites, like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, and Ning. Know who has access to your children’s pages, and make sure your kids know why you’ve set up limits on their use of these sites.
  • Set limitations on when your child can use handheld devices, such as cell phones and iPods. Suggestions include not using them at mealtimes, when visiting family or friends, while driving, and at school.
  • Keep your home computers in family spaces, such as a den or a living room, so that you can periodically check in on how your kids are using the Internet.

Digital technologies and communicating with them isn’t just for kids—you can use them, too! While learning to use text messages or a social networking site can seem like a daunting task, it’s actually pretty easy, and can be very beneficial. Here are some possible uses of these technologies:

  • Organize a local parenting group with MeetUp.com. Get together once a month and talk about what has made parenting especially difficult or enjoyable over the past month. You could also use this opportunity to discuss parenting books or articles you’ve read recently.
  • Send text messages to your kids when they’re away, just to let them know that you’re thinking about them.
  • Use Facebook to keep far-away relatives involved in your child’s life. Post pictures of a dance recital, a video from a football game, or a message letting everyone know that your child got an “A” on her or his math test.

You may feel overwhelmed at first, but it’s good to make an effort to both understand and take advantage of the digital communication technologies that are available, both for your child’s safety and to help you in parenting. And once you’ve started using these tools, you can share them with other parents so that they can use them, too!

 

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