Our digital world is forever expanding. According to the research firm Growing Wireless, 88% of teens between the ages of 13-18 have access to a smartphone. How can we help our teens understand how to use their smartphones and mobile devices wisely?
Youth expert Jonathan McKee summarizes his advice to teens by warning them to think before they post.
"Before you hit that share button, before you hit that send button, before you hit that submit or post button, think about it."
"Very often the problem with young people is that they're posting that rant, or that picture or whatever late at night, in their bedroom. Back even before cell phones, your family doctor was saying not to have a television in your kids' rooms, or an internet connection or a computer, and a lot of parents took that advice."
"But all of a sudden parents are allowing their kids to have their phones in their pockets or on their nightstands. And what's happening is that kids get into trouble in the middle of the night on these devices. I tell parents that one way to help your kids avoid getting into trouble is to not let them have their phones or iPads or computers in their rooms at night."
McKee says that as parents we need to set our kids up for success with mobile devices and the apps they use. That means being willing to engage in frequent conversations about how to best utilize this ever-changing technology.
"It is tough to make connections with our kids when we all have our heads buried in a smartphone, but it's really important for kids to be able to talk about these things with their parents or with other mentors. We need to keep these conversations happening. Engage with your kids as often as possible. The world they are navigating is different than our own, but it is possible to join them in that struggle."
Jonathan McKee's book and website are excellent resources for understanding your teen and social media.
Neil Stavem hosts Connecting Faith, a daily radio program on Faith Radio, a ministry of University of Northwestern.