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Parents, Teens and Tech: Three Simple Ways to Achieve Digital Zen

5 August, 2018

Technology is part of our lives and the way we live, so it’s important to understand how parenting can fit positively in the digital landscape.

On The Digital Zen Podcast we’ve spoken to an amazing line-up of leading psychologists, youth experts and parenting authors to find out how parents, teens and tech can live together in harmony.

While it can be frustrating, unnerving or even a little scary to navigate the digital space as a parent, here are some simple ways for you and the teens you love to achieve some Digital Zen.

#1  Keep your own relationship with technology in check.

The Digital Zen Podcast

Emails, phone calls, meetings, appointments – the list goes on and on. As much as you might not realise it, your own relationship with technology influences your teen’s relationship with their technology.

If you’re constantly checking your phone or computer during breakfast or at the dinner table, your teen might see this as validation for always checking their Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook.

Dr. Justin Coulson advises parents to encourage real and meaningful time with their teens.

Set a positive example and make breakfast time, dinner and any other moments when the family is together a mobile free zone.

Sometimes you need to disconnect online in order to reconnect with those you love.

As Australia’s ‘Queen of Common Sense’ Maggie Dent puts it:

Unless we put family relationships as something that’s really important, the Internet will steal that space.

#2  Change your attitude towards the role of tech in your teen’s life.

The Digital Zen Podcast

 

Is technology really having a negative influence on our teens or are there some positive influences?

For NPR Education Correspondent and Author, Anya Kamenentz, she views the digital landscape empowering teens to support big social movements, teach themselves new skills online and a way to encourage entrepreneurial initiatives.

Unfortunately however, if parents do not support or fully understand their teen’s activities online, these little sparks of inspiration and creativity sadly fade away.

In her research, Professor Sonia Livingstone saw many instances of missed opportunities where teens would stop pursuing a particular interest online such as coding or creating YouTube videos because they didn’t receive enough support, resources or recognition from the adults around them.

Instead of immediately discounting the positive role of technology and approaching your teen’s keen interest in his/her screen as a negative, take a small step back and simply ask them about it. Through your careful guidance and support, your teen’s small hobby can turn into a lifelong passion or pathway to their future career.

#3   Be curious and embrace the tech your teen is using.

Parents want to keep their teens safe offline and online. However, with new apps, social media platforms and more popping up everyday, it is definitely hard to keep up with the latest digital trends.

Instead of looking at news stories, research or other external sources for information about the digital world that teens engage with daily, Clinical Psychologist Jordan Foster advises parents to be curious and simply ask your teens some questions, allowing them to play the role of the expert.

Australia’s first cyber cop and author of Sexts, Texts and Selfies, Susan McLean reinforces this message.

Embrace technology the way your children have because you need to be a part of their world… Be that active and involved participant in their world.

 

Having a genuine interest in your teen’s activities online can not only help you become more knowledgeable about the digital landscape, it can also allow for a more open and positive dialogue, helping you understand why the digital space is so important to them. Take these three steps and you will certainly start to welcome more Digital Zen into both your life and the life of the teen(s) you love.

 

Written by Sallie Rodriguez

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