In our previous podcast, West Ridge Academy talked about a blog that would tackle the topic about teens and technology. This is that blog post!

It goes without saying that technology has completely altered the way we live our lives today. As we are writing this, numerous people are already hooked on to the internet, and many more are expected to join the bandwagon as the information superhighway continues to extend its reach towards more developing countries. Cell phones are a must-have gadget for everyone in this hectic world. No matter where we go, we are always entertained by gadgets such as iPods, Nintendo DS's, or PSP's. You may ask, does this advent of technology have a direct effect on our families, most especially when it comes to our relationship with our teenagers?

Teens are wired. They seem to have an endless array of technology options that they can use to stay connected and entertained. West Ridge Academy child psychology experts point that 87% of teens surveyed say that they are online, with more and more saying they have high speed connections. An estimated 9% of all 300 million Facebook users are teenagers. In July 2008, a research showed that about 83% of all teens have cellphones of their own, and are averaging an estimated 50 to 70 text messages every day. Cyber-communication is definitely being utilized by teens to maintain relationships. There are pros and cons when it comes to the use of technology for communication.

New technology presents many benefits, both for teens and their parents. It is easier for teens to contact their parents if both of them carry a cellphone with them at all times. It's very convenient for parents to constantly check on the whereabouts of their kids because of cellphones. It is also easier for parents to contact their teen, especially through text messaging. Most cell phone companies today also offer GPS services which make it possible for parents to physically locate their teen's actual location if they wish to. Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace allow teens to keep connecting with friends through chat features. There is also tons of good information on sites such as YouTube. One of the great things to come out of this technology boom is that kids can exercise their creativity for example by creating content for blogs and online videos.

There are inherent challenges associated with the possible misuse or overuse of these technologies however. One of the biggest concerns is that because of technology, teens may become disconnected from their friends and relatives instead of bringing them closer. Even though teens nowadays spend a lot of their time in front of their computers or cellphones, there is a real danger that the connection that they're building with other people online may only be superficial. However, connecting with people online is not the same as connecting in person. When you are online, you don't have any eye contact. You do not have that opportunity to exchange some physical gestures, such as a warm smile or a firm handshake. Hearing the sound of your voice or seeing your body language are integral to an enhanced communicative experience, and those are the things that would be missing if you use text messaging for communication.

How to connect with your teen was among the first major tasks that we have discussed in our blogs and podcasts. It is your responsibility as a parent to set workable and practical boundaries regarding your teen's use of technology. Workable arrangements such as 'no cellphones allowed during dinner' or 'no cellphones during field trip' will give you that much needed opportunity to take advantage of your teen's attention without all those distractions brought about by technology. If you cannot control it, technology can actually become a major hurdle in your attempts to establish a genuine connection with your teen. With appropriate boundaries on technology and using the technique Jeff talks about in the podcasts you can create a powerful, genuine connection with your teen.

For more information visit West Ridge Academy's home or podcast.

Author's Bio: 

West Ridge Academy offers K-12 classes with a 15 to 1 student teacher ratio and is accredited by the NAAS. West Ridge Academy has been helping youth since 1964; to date helping more than 25,000 troubled teens.