GUEST BLOG – by Hilary Smith
Do you remember when email first arrived on the scene and the thrill that came with checking your inbox?
Many us can still recall the amazement of how convenient and practical this service was compared to traditional snail mail. We were in awe and soon many of us ditched writing letters and making long distance phone calls in favor of quick messages sent over the Internet. While we were fascinated with email, imagine how our children feel in regards to social media.
Today’s youth have so many options available to connect with their peers and society by using technology. This connectivity makes it vital that parents have a strong understanding of how social media is used by our children and ways we can promote positive interactions with technology that goes beyond ordering take out or purchasing downloadable content.
Technology And Social Media’s Impact On Youth
One of the factors influencing our teen’s technology consumption is the prevalence of handheld devices and cell phones. Almost 75 percent of our teens have access to Smartphones and this is often credited with the spike in their daily connectivity. When this is coupled with the prevalence of social media, it is no wonder that our teens communicate differently with their peers than we did.
Facebook is still a driving force in teen social media use, but within the last few years teens have begun utilizing a variety of disappearing and anonymous apps. A few apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Yik Yak, Omegle, and Kik Messenger have gained users as teens look to find ways to hide their activity from their parents and family members.
Tips For Using Technology To A Teen’s Advantage
We are raising a generation that doesn’t remember a time without cell phones or the Internet. Whether we like it or not, our children are digital natives. Data shows that 92 percent of all teens access the Internet everyday whether it is by laptops, cell phones, tablets, or consoles- our teens are increasingly connected. Over half of the teens surveyed mention that they are online several times a day while almost one quarter of teens are online constantly.
Here are eight tips for parents of connected teens to harness technology to their benefit:
- Look for Skitch or other products similar to Evernote. Skitch is an app that allows users to take screenshots and create notes on the images. This can help teens organize their thoughts and ideas on the go.
- Create no phone zones and encourage down time from their devices and gadgets. Restrict devices to common living areas and power down at a set time every night. This will allow teens a little respite.
- Take the stress out of math and science class with some amazing calculator apps. MyScript Calculator is one that allows you to write the formula right on your Smartphone.
- Look for educational sites and apps that allow a child to explore their interests and talents. One of the beauties of the Internet is the wealth of knowledge available. Instructables is one site that allows teens to explore ideas, concepts, and technology at the same time.
- If a teen is stressed out, use a meditation app to help them relieve internal pressure. Take a Break! is just one of the many apps available for relaxing.
- Use a sleep app to help fall asleep with soothing sounds, track sleep cycles, and more. A majority of the nation’s teens are not getting adequate amounts of sleep and Sleep Genius is one app on the market to help teens tackle this problem.
- Use a child’s love of technology to foster communication and bring the family together. Download one of their favorite apps and make it easy for them to keep you informed by using a method they are comfortable using.
- Teach social media etiquette and build on that foundation as a child ages and technology evolves.
What are some ways you utilize technology to benefit your family?