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Parents: Develop a Good Communication Practice
With Your Children Through the Use of Technology

March 9, 2015 3:30 PM

I SHUDDER when I see a parent who refuses to join social networking or update a cell phone to include good texting, communication and social networking capabilities. The possibilities to improve the relationship with your children are endless! It is a wasted opportunity to develop a connection with your children that can last a lifetime.

CandaceNaasir
LaCandace and Naasir share a selfie on his 10th birthday. Selfies reflect a shared memory and a sense of belonging. These moments are invaluable and posting them on social media exhibits an ever greater pride in the connection with your children!

A sense of belonging is a critical need and one that, if not properly developed, can lead to gang affiliation, among a number of additional issues. Social media is a way for children to find acceptance, if used properly.

More than ever before, the opportunity to have a real connection with our children exists and the benefits are immeasurable, especially during the most dificult teen years. Teens tend to share their ideas and thoughts easily with what appears to be the safety of their social networking contacts and technology. I developed a level of communication with Grant and Tyler by accepting what was comfortable for them. Before Facebook became so popular, we used texting as a way of staying in constant contact. It gave the boys a sense of security and I always knew they were OK! I received text messages from football games, athletic practices and social gatherings; I was immediately contacted whenever one of my sons found himself in an uneasy situation, and my children never needed reminders as to when it was time to come home.

The same applies with postings from cell phones. Posting selfies is a great way to help develop a sense of connection and belonging and marking other events with photos also helps to nurture confidence. Children blossom when told they are a source of pride. Tasteful photos of accomplishments and major milestones on a periodic basis help to encourage this. They also provide role models of acceptable items to post and share online. Parents should monitor the types of social photos their children post to make sure they are not compromising their personal security in any way. It is also important for parents to consider their child's level of comfort with online posting. Posting against a child's wishes can be detrimental to the trust held between you. Communicate to make sure you are on the same page and respect each other's wishes.

The open and direct communication I shared with Grant and Tyler encouraged their adherence to house rules. Technology also allowed me to follow their progress in school. I regularly checked grades through the school portal. It was also easier to schedule social events through shared apps on our phones.

The best way to nurture a good relationship with your children is through open communication and technology allows us to do just that, if we are willing to use it to its fullest advantages!

"My child refuses to make me his FB Friend."

Once on board with the technology, however, it is also important to serve as a guide in it's proper use. It is hard for a child to adopt the fact that some photos and comments posted on the web are inappropriate if their parents are posting the same types of materials. THERE WILL BE A TOMORROW. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO AVOID LETTING ONLINE BEHAVIOR JEOPARDIZE THEIR FUTURES.

Likewise, parents must monitor online behavior, especially for younger children. I have heard some parents say, "Well, she wouldn't accept me as a Facebook friend." Parents OFTEN relinquish their own authority and control. No parent likes conflict. Some would rather take the path of least resistance. If this is your way of handling difficult situations with your teens, then you must be reminded of a phrase on a magnet given to me by my oldest brother and his wife who raised 4 children : Motherhood is not for wimps. Children must understand that all privileges come with responsibility. If YOU do not take responsibility, who then, will guide them? The same applies with technology. If your child refuses to allow you access to his or her social networking page, then he or she simply has not earned the opportunity to get one. When it came to the use of technology in our home, errors and mishandling resulted in long stretches of time without these conveniences. A long stretch of time, in my house, could be anywhere from 2 weeks to the end of the school year, depending on the infraction. Just as important is the fact that on these social networking sites, other family members are also "friends" who can help keep an eye on monitoring child communications and connections. No child should have a social networking account without a parent as a friend. It IS also Important to undeerstand Facebook safety protocols.Learn how to set the security protocols so you and your child are protected from the prying eyes of potential child predators. Again, I cannot stress the importance of teaching your children discretion and how inappropriate behavior online can follow one throughout adulthood, even jeopardizing college admissions and job opportunities.

Finally, this is a great way to avoid rebellion by meeting your child on his or her own turf in a non-confrontational manner.

You would be amazed at what your children will share online. Reading Facebook and Twitter statuses and updates allow(ed) me to glimpse into the thoughts of both of my sons. If I note something out of order, I find an appropriate time to discuss the issue in person. It is a great way to segue into more difficult discussions, and it is not a difficult piece of technology to master.

As we move further and further into this technological age, our children are leaving us behind. We can no longer be afraid to use technology as it can be a great asset when it comes to communicating with our children. In addition, school communications are also much less intimidating. Parents are welcomed to send quick emails to teachers whenever questions or concerns arise. Grades can be checked on a regular basis so there are no surprises at the end of the term. Talk to your school about how to access your child's progress and grade reports. I checked Grant and Tyler's work each Friday to make sure nothing is missing and to make sure homework is done before weekend play begins!

With just a little practice, you can be up and running with your own Facebook account in a matter of minutes. Just be careful! A lot of parents are getting hooked on favorite games such as Mafia Wars and Texas Hold'Em Poker, in addition to catching up with their own childhood friends! Do not be afraid of the technology; embrace it but do so intelligently. Allow your children to become part of the global community, but teach them how to be responsible members. This is the best way to avoid unfortunate situations in the future that could start with a few words such as, "if I had only known" or "I saw that picture of you on Facebook..."

I look forward to working with parents and guardians and am committed to providing sincere and honest advice as it relates to my own experience.No two students learn alike; no two people parent alike. You must find a parenting and advocating style that is most comfortable for you!

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Professor Marsha

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Marsha Kay Bass, ABD

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