Monitoring Teenagers

See also: Talking to Teenagers about Sex and Relationships

With every passing day, there seem to be new and more parental responsibilities to fulfill. Your role and tasks as a parent change with as your child grows and encounters new experiences. Taking care of a newborn is a challenge, but raising a teen is a whole new level of parenting.

Teen years are a time of exploration, growth and risks, and these days the internet plays an essential part in the growth and development of your kid’s life. 

According to a Pew survey, the top internet activities for teenagers are:

  • Watching movies, TV shows, sports shows, or music groups
  • Using social media apps or social networking sites
  • Getting information or news about current events
  • Checking updates for colleges and universities
  • Using instant messages apps

However, the potential for the internet to become addictive is well known and this can be harmful to your teens. Many teenagers prefer to use social media apps instead of spending time with their families. According to

  • More than half of teenagers check their social media several times a day
  • More than 75% of teenagers in America have social media accounts
  • 51% of teens use social media sites daily
  • 1 in 4 teens uses more than one social media app

Your teens think taking risks will help them polish their skills and abilities, but what they do not understand is how some of the new risks can have a long-lasting effect on their well-being and health. Here are the most common mental health-related issues teens can experience from over-use of social media:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Loneliness
  • Dependence
  • Anxiety
  • Jealousy or envy
  • Communication issues
  • Lack of socialization skills for teenagers
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem

However, there is one way that you can keep your child away from the dangers of real and online worlds. Monitoring their daily activities and the interaction with their surroundings can help you lower the chances of them getting hurt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, “Teens whose parents use effective monitoring practices are less likely to make poor decisions, such as having sex at an early age, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, being physically aggressive, or skipping school.”

Along with monitoring, there is one more thing that can help your child have a healthy teenage experience, and that is your verbal and physical involvement in their life. The more you get involved, the more you will see changes and it will help if you can talk through any issues and problems before they occur. However, many teens may view this involvement as an infringement of their privacy, therefore monitoring their daily life activities can help you both have a peaceful and safer life.

What does monitoring teens involve?

When you are talking about monitoring your child, it means you are establishing firm limits and setting guidelines for them. However, when children enter their teens, they want to explore more of what the world has to offer and this can create problems for both them and their parents.

The demand for independence by kids can create a communication gap and, as a result, it becomes harder to know their whereabouts. Now, this is where monitoring helps as it can help you find your answers. For example, where are your children? Are they with their friends? Do you know their friends? Are they safe? You can answer these questions with the help of monitoring.

Moreover, social media has taken over most of the internet. With increasing cases of cyberbullying, it is always better to provide a secure platform for your kids and there are several monitoring apps that can save your teen from certain discomforts.

Why is monitoring important?

The internet is called “A big city with no police.” It’s negligence to you leave your children unsupervised in it.

Many parents get concerned about disturbing their child’s privacy, but they shouldn’t because the only safety shield standing between online dangers and your kids is you. There are signs of depression, cyberbullying, and threats of violence, suicidal thoughts, and more in your child’s online life. You must keep track of their activities. There are several reasons for monitoring your teens and the most important is for their own safety. Your child meets different people every day, be it online or in the real world.

With rising crime rates, you must deal with any concerns about your child’s safety and well-being . Many cases involve abuse (verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical) attempted by the people around a child. A study by SCANVA reveals that “85-90% of child sexual abuse cases involve perpetrators known to the child, and in 35% of cases, a family member is an offender. Therefore, parents need to know whom their child is spending time with.”

With evolving technology and super-fast internet access, nothing can stays out of a teen’s reach for long. According to John Rodolico, the director of adolescent addictions training at McLean Hospital in Belmont, “As a parent, it is quite easy not to know what is going on, especially if your kid is smart or creative about hiding things from you.” However, if you want to know what your child has been up to, getting some help from a monitoring app will not hurt.

What are the cons of monitoring?

Indeed, monitoring has its benefits, but it may also have some disadvantages. Parents should find the right balance between freedom and safety.

As mentioned above, monitoring does have its upside. You can know where your child is, who is influencing their lives, and much more. You can teach your kids, help them deal with emotionally damaging situations, and find potential threats before your child gets into any trouble. However, there are few cons to monitoring as well.

  • Many teenagers may think of this as spying. You can lose their trust.
  • Your kids will not learn to handle problems on their own
  • Your child can try to find new ways to bypass the security traps
  • Monitoring can hurt your relationship once they lose respect and trust
  • With each alert, parents can get stressed and this can lead to serious health issues

However, with the right attitude, you can resolve most of the monitoring-related concerns of your teens. Take the time to interact with them, get to know them as a person and not just as your child, and find out more about their life. An open conversation could help you figure out if your reaction to the situation is exaggerated.

About the Author

Alex Miller in an expert in child psychology and child-parent relationship. He has worked with children for more than two decades and provides counseling to both children and their parents. He has done a lot of research on child-parent relations and possesses valuable insights as to how both can foster a healthy and loving relationship.