Technology and Youth: Protecting Your Child from Electronic Aggression
March 2016, SWP Newsletter
In the last 20 years, there has been an explosion in new technology. With the help of websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and more, young people can interact with others on a regular basis, without the need for face-to-face communication. This may be of benefit for youth who have difficulty developing friendships in a traditional social setting or have limited contact with same-aged peers. However, this does not come without possible risks. Youth can use social media to embarrass, harass, or threaten their peers. Increasing numbers of adolescents are becoming victims of this new form of violence – electronic aggression. Research suggests that 9% to 35% of youth report being victims of this type of violence. Electronic aggression is associated with emotional distress and conduct problems at school.
What can you do to protect your child from electronic violence?
· Talk to your child: ask your child what websites and apps they are using, without provoking consequences for using social media. Educate your child about your concerns, and develop a solution that prevents or addresses possible victimization, without punishing the child.
· Develop rules: together with your child, develop rules about safe behaviors for all electronic media. Make plans for what they should do if they become a victim of electronic aggression or know someone who is being victimized. The rules should focus on ways to maximize the benefits of technology and decrease the risks.
· Explore the internet: visit websites or apps that your child visits, and assess the pros and cons. Many websites and online activities can be beneficial, helping youth learn new information and connect them with others that have similar interests.
· Talk with other parents: ask how others discussed technology use with their children. Ask about the rules they developed and stay informed about their child’s technology use.
· Connect with the school: work with your child’s school district to educate parents about school policies on electronic aggression and resources available to parents who have concerns. Work with the school to develop a collaborative approach to preventing electronic aggression.
· Educate yourself: stay informed about the new websites and apps your child is using. Technology changes rapidly, and many of the developers offer information to keep people aware of advances. Continually talk with your child about what they are doing on their technology device.
Technology is not going away, and forbidding young people to access electronic media may not be an effective long-term solution. Together, parents and children can come up with ways to maximize the benefits of technology and decrease its risks.
Adapted from www.cdc.gov
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