Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Parenting a Teen Girl in Today’s World

Given the ubiquity of technology, we tend to forget that not too long ago, lugging smart phones along, and limitless access to wireless internet was just the talk of the future.  At the risk of sounding old fashioned, and stick-in-the-mud, most parents give in to their children’s relentless pleas for jumping on the bandwagon and adopting all that technology has in store. Children growing up with these facilities cannot imagine a world or even tracking their way to the nearest dustbin without their smart phones glued to their hands! 

A lot has changed in the years since your little princess came in to the world. The prattling and adorable preteen you once loved and knew, may have morphed into a creature who is filled to brimming with intricate emotions, wanting to constantly challenge your authority, distance herself, cultivate new relationships, and fall in to unflattering and downright perilous habits which would make a parent cringe with worry. If your chatterbox now answers most questions with a sullen “yes”, wants to stay locked up for most hours, and cannot seem to stop tweeting and Instagram-ing (which kills you with curiosity), it is imperative that you try to understand her world and her surroundings to garner a peace of mind and protect her from everything you have sworn to keep her away from, since the moment she was born. Here are a few things to look out for when your baby girl becomes a young lady:

1)    Sexting

Sex-ting is the buzz word that entails the exchange of videos, photos, and messages that are sexual in nature, through smart phones and other such devices. In a world swarming with sexual predators, blackmailers, and hackers, this can lead to severe repercussions, such as humiliation and emotional distress, suspension from school, and even distribution of child pornography. Your young lady in still in the throes of childhood and may fall prey to such events in hopes of fostering a “relationship”, or “romance”. How to read someone’s text messages without them knowing is a common concern and now it is simple to do!

2)    Social Media Presence

Your daughter’s social media presence can say a lot about her surroundings and her standing. It can start with something as simple as checking her online profiles for the latest status she updated or the selfies she just uploaded.  Young adults post pictures online to glean support and admiration from their so-called friends, but what they post online would help you delve deep into solving the enigma that they are and raise suspicion if you suspect a fishy activity. As her parent, you should be added in her friend list or following, but it is often not the case. Even if you are not on her “friend list”, it is still possible to check what she posts, who she chooses to share it with, the comments from her friends, and what she is in to these days. Review the privacy settings she has set for her posts to prevent them from falling in to wrong hands, in addition to checking the appropriation of the content.

However, if you stay involved, keep it low profile. Your daughter might not appreciate her parents chiming-in in her online space. While you can see all her conversations and posts, try to abstain from joining in on them yourself. Young adults often post inappropriate pictures and videos, even of themselves, in order to appear “all the rage”, and hip. If you notice something which you don’t deem safe for her, you can always talk to her in person. This promotes open dialogue and fosters trust that you’re not trying to pry into her personal life and embarrassing her. Spy apps have become very popular. 

In addition, start by teaching your girl how to use the internet and set guidelines to what they are and aren’t allowed to do. The legal age for any child to set up a profile on social media and online dating platforms, such as Facebook or Meetme.com, is 13 years old. Thus, before your child turns 13, completely forbid the use of such sites. Cell phone spy apps have become one of the most popular apps. 

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