One fine day my teenage daughter returned from school fuming and in a rebellious mood. 

“I am feeling sooo..bad.  Most of my friends have their own iPad, smartphones and laptops. They all have Facebook and Google accounts. You do not allow us. We get screen time only on weekends and that too for half an hour only and we have to choose between laptop, TV and your mobile phone.”…

Well, that’s something all the parents like me have to suffer occasionally.  Parents who feel that screens ( TV, laptop, iPad, mobile) are an integral part and necessity of today’s life need not be a part of childhood or should be kept away till a certain age. We are parents who have followed their notion with conviction and who have not given up even after occasional conflicts with their children.

I did not react to any of her cribbing. After sometime when I found her calm and composed, I sat down with her for a talk. I acknowledged her feeling. One is bound to feel sad when he/she does not get what their peers are getting. But do you really need it?? Is it beneficial?? What purpose does it serve?? It’s pros and cons were discussed. Holding myself away from preaching mode, I tried my best to involve her and politely put the ball in her court – to decide what is good for her?? 

 She came to the conclusion that the restriction is for her good. 

I am sure that this is not the last time. I will again have to face such situation as a parent in future. And again I will try my best to channelize it into fruitful discussion and give her the responsibility of choosing what is good for her. I will follow my firm and polite approach. No wonder, truly said “Parenting is the most overwhelming job on the planet”.

Well, I proudly pat my back for my achievement. In the era of technology and smart devices, I am among the handful of parents who could successfully keep their children off screen till the age of seven. After that the screen time was limited to one and half hour per week dividing it into slots of half hour each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If there is a good movie on weekends they are allowed to watch it. And they accompany us to theater if we go out for watching clean family entertainer movies. Other than that, they get access to Internet and laptop during weekdays if and only if they need it for some homework and assignment.

And I promise to myself to help them to keep away from smart devices and social networking sites till they are 18. 

But my situation might vary with others as the conditions and circumstances vary with each one. And keeping a teen or a tween away from social networking sights might be very tough in today’s technology driven world. 

Technology has touched teens and tween and has impacted them a lot. More and more teens are joining social networking sites. Many of them join it without telling their parents and covering themselves under anonymity. Teens love to do adult things but their brain is still immature to make a right decision. In the age of influence and peer pressure they fail to resist the temptation to join a social networking site.  Addiction to these sites, cyber bullying and many cyber-crimes etc. come as a side effect. 

Many networking sites target teens through attractive video games and teen and tween avatars. Many a times these avatars are actually adults and such predators might harm your child.

Parents many a times feel helpless to deal with teens because of their rebellious nature and immature brain. They need to be tricky and tactful to deal with their teenage children. Here are some helpful tips that can be taken as a guide to Teenage and social networking.

Take them in confidence: This is of utmost importance. Hurting their feelings or self-esteem can actually backfire. Have a friendly relation with them. Spend quality time with them. Many children turn to social networking sites as they feel lonely and unwanted. They love to share and bond with strangers online as they feel more accepted and less criticized. Work on your bonding. If your child feels comfortable with you, he/she will feel free to share about online friends and experiences with you. They will keep you in loop of their activities and not do anything without informing you.

Update yourself: As a parent you need to be always on your toes to educate yourself. Visit the sites, know about it, talk to other parents about their experiences, talk to your children’s friends who are on same networking site and know about the potential dangers your child might get into. These updates will prepare you to handle the situation better.

Keep the communication channel open: Talk, Talk and Talk. A healthy talk which does not turn into a preaching lesson works best with teens. Talk before they join. Tell them the pros and cons.  Tell them the guidelines to be followed and about the potential danger or mess that he/she might get into by the misuse of the social networks. Keep talking to them about their experiences on a day to day basis. Take interest in their online activities so that they feel like sharing with you about all the developments. Being involved with your kids will help you sense any alarming situation. You can be defensive and help them before any drastic consequence. 

Smart tricks: Some smart parenting tricks will help you. Keep the computer at a place where you can keep an eye on your child without making them feel that you are hovering over their shoulders. Discourage them from using it in isolation or in a locked room. Use parental blocks to keep a track of the computer’s history, to see what he/she has been visiting online.

Set limits and be a role model:  Every choice and freedom should come with a limitation and responsibility. Do not act bossy and have an honest talk with them about the time limits. Tell them how excess of networking sites can make them addict and adversely affect their health and studies. Let them understand the benefits f time limit. But all these will not bear any fruit if your child finds you addicted to social networks. They know you skin deep. So try to be a role model.

Some precautionary measures that they are bound to follow:  Be polite but firm with these safety rules which at no cost can be broken.

Discourage them from using networking sites like Facebook. Ask them to wait till they are 18. 

Discourage them from sharing personal photos and personal information.

No and strict no for flirting online.

Not use of inappropriate and abusive language.

Not hurting feelings and sentiments. Refrain from religious, cultural and political exchanges.

Never allow them to meet any online friends in person.

Try these tips to keep your child safe from predators online and also to help him from falling into the trap of social networking addiction.






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