Parenting Teens Setting Rules on Electronics at Night

What is your teen doing at night? Sleeping, talking on the phone, texting, sexting, surfing the net, playing video games, sneaking out, sneaking someone in?

*The intent of this article is not to destroy every private moment your child is entitled to, or to portray every teen as untrusting individuals. The intent is to educate parents on how to help teens with their decision making when they are not able to make the right one on a consistent basis. As you read keep in mind that teens like to do the right thing and feel bad when they mess up, they are simply finding their way through a world that seemed to forget how it felt to be thirteen. Teens are unique individuals that have amazing potential to change the world.

Reasons and ages vary when parents succumb to separation from bedtime rituals of tucking in, getting one more sip of water, and mid night peeps through bedroom doors, just to make sure they were asleep. Why would you need to know what your adolescent is doing, they’re a great kid, right?

All the challenges that existed for kids ten years ago exist in a magnified state. Technological advances make it easier for kids to access whatever they want when they want. The key to knowing what your teen is doing at night is educating yourself of what they could be doing and openly discuss the issues with your teen.

Signs that your child may have nocturnal activities trumping sleep may include; some of the symptoms of hyperactivity, depression, grade slips, change in peer group, and increased anxiety with family and friends. Some kids may not display any symptoms and can still be participating in nightly activities.

If the teen has a cell phone it can be a likely culprit of robbing your teens sleep. To maintain an open relationship with your teen first check your cell phone bill or call your cell phone carrier to check for overnight texts and calls. If you find out that they have been engaged in overnight conversations via text it is a great byway to a dialog with your child.

It is important to remain calm and set a trusting environment for this conversation. It is a great venue to ask your child to view their messages openly and discuss personal responsibility of phone usage. If they refuse to show you their texts it may be cause for concern or they may be taking a stand for their personal space. Either way it is important to show respect for their feelings and explain that if they feel good about what they are doing on their phone they should not feel that they need to hide it.  

It is reported that some teens do not feel it is a big deal to send naked pictures of themselves to people they know. The debate could go on forever blaming multiple parties for the lack of self worth amongst the young population today. Although the following statement by the Associated Press is from a report on teens and sexting it can help parents understand the importance of having rules on technology.

“Research shows teenage brains are not quite mature enough to make good decisions consistently. By the mid-teens, the brain’s reward centers, the parts involved in emotional arousal, are well-developed, making teens more vulnerable to peer pressure.” (par10)

Not all text messages that are happening at night are bad; sometimes they may just be young love flirts, chatty friends, or an invite to jump into an online group game.

A great example is of a father that woke up at 4:47am for some water. Heading to the kitchen he finds his daughter in the same spot he left her at 10pm to retire for the night. Shocked and thinking only the best he asked why she was up so early, until he saw she was wearing the same clothes and looking at him with tired blood shot eyes. She was not doing anything wrong per se but this is not ideal behavior for a healthy child. Teens are young adults and they act like young adults so it can be easy to give too much slack to them. They still have their childish impulses and some are truly uncontrollable until learned.

Fortunately these types of situations can be avoided with parental controls and household rules. These rules are easier to put into place early, but definitely available to put in place anytime.

When it comes to electric devices rules can be enforced by simply establishing the time limits with your teen and removing the temptation. Weather it is locking up controllers overnight or having a family charging station for electronic devices.

The sure fire way to ruin a relationship with your teen is to camp out on their floor or become overly involved in every aspect of their space. Without trust any relationship is not going to be the best that it can. This is a precious time for them to understand their self value and develop character, although tempting, try not to give them all the answers, let them fall and get back up.

It is time to face that in this day and age you must simply put your foot down and not allow twenty four hour access to cell phones, online gaming, and computer usage. Kids are kids and the all night activities will open doors to situations that they should never have to choose in at such a young age. Let them be kids as long as you can.

There will be plenty of situations out of your control your teen will have when you will have to bite your lip, take a deep breath, and say a prayer for them but the technology they could be using at night is not. The situation is challenging, but not helpless.

As a parent all you can do is provide your teen a loving home that sets fair expectations with clear consequences. Foster open communication, know what is going on in their lives, their struggles, and just be there for them as they rise and fall in their journey to adulthood.  

 Reference:

Think Your Kid Is Not ‘Sexting’? Think Again

Associated Press 3 Dec 2009

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,579025,00.html