Online Privacy for Teens
The prominence of electronic devices and online media has revolutionized how parents and children relate to one another. The access that kids and teens have to electronic devices leaves parents trying to maintain a balance between trusting teens with smartphone access and supervising their behavior to help keep them safe.
Kids and Access to Electronic Devices
Electronic devices - like TVs, video game consoles, handheld video games, tablets, laptops and smartphones - are everywhere, and kids love them. While it is tempting to keep kids busy and quiet by handing over any one of these kinds of media, parents are encouraged by child development specialists of all kinds to restrict their children’s access. Parents are left wondering about how much access kids should have to electronic devices specifically, and all types of media in general.
Even when electronic mediums are designed to help children build important cognitive and academic skills, overexposure can actually cause a great deal of harm, especially in the arena of imaginative play and social skills. Most studies completed on the subject concur that children under the age of two should not be exposed to media at all.
The following infographic touches on the 1 to 4 Rule, a guideline that specifies one additional hour of media access for every four years of a child’s development. For example, if children are four years old, it is recommended that they have no more than one hour of access to electronic devices per day. By the time a child turns eight or older, the limit can increase to no more than two hours per day, and so on.
Why Should Parents Limit Kids' Access to Media?
Because children - and adults - are so taken with electronic devices, they may resist any efforts to restrict access to media. However, there are several important reasons why parents need to make this battle a priority.
● Restricting children's access to electronics allows parents more time to pay attention to what kinds of content their children are taking in.
● One-third of the children who have access to the internet via smartphones will experience instances of cyberbullying, but only ten percent will tell a trusted adult.
● As children grow and develop into teens, they become interested more in their peers' opinions instead of what their parents have to say. Restricted access to media helps balance that tendency.
● Restricting access gives kids and teens more time to devote to school and homework, friendships, sports, and part-time work.
How Can Parents Enforce These Guidelines?
There are simple ways that parents can enforce the responsibilities required for teens to access their electronic devices.
● Create a cell phone contract that outlines expectations, responsibilities, and consequences. Meet together as a family and have all both the teens and the parents sign it.
● Post the cell phone contract prominently so that it can always be accessed and reviewed.
● Be consistent regarding the expectations and requirements set forth in the agreement.
● Install monitoring software across electronic devices and review it periodically to keep communication open.
What About Privacy?
Teaching teens how to function online is as important as any other aspect of society, like school, work, and in relationships. The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as online privacy - once something is posted on the internet, it is forever.
Teens are not developmentally ready to consider the long-term consequences of their actions, and it is up to parents to help their kids out during this stage of life. When parents monitor their teens online, they can stay connected and discuss any dangers or problems that they see, keeping parent-child relationships open and strong.
A teen with access to a smartphone is a sign of independence and trust, but it is also a privilege that requires oversight. It is up to parents to make sure that their children are safe as they navigate the modern world.
For more information, check out the infographic below.