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Using Technology as an Effective Parenting Tool

Unfortunately, many children — especially teens — are physically and psychologically attached to their electronic devices. But while these devices can often distract teens from doing their homework and chores, or take up too much of their free time, they also can provide parents with a powerful way to deliver effective consequences in order to improve their ​children's behavior.

Here are some tips for how you can take advantage of your teen's ties to technology:

  • Make sure your teen understands that access to electronic devices is a privilege, not a right, and that you can revoke or restrict this privilege at any time, for any reason.
  • At a neutral time, when everyone is calm, discuss with your teen the expectations you have for his or her behavior. Then clearly establish the specific technology-related consequences he or she will receive for meeting, or failing to meet, those expectations. For example:
    • No video games, social media or video-watching until all homework is completed and chores are done.
    • Achieving good grades earns continued use of electronic devices; dropping or failing grades will lead to electronic devices being taken away until there is noticeable improvement in the classroom.  
    • Electronic devices can and will be taken away for other behaviors such as not following instructions, being disrespectful, fighting with siblings, etc.

Make sure ​​your teen understands you have the absolute right to review and monitor any app he or she is using on a smartphone, tablet or other device. This means not allowing your teen to have secret passwords or passcodes. Your teen also should know you have the right to delete any app or electronic content from his or her devices that you believe is harmful or inappropriate.

A final way to use technology to your advantage is to keep up with the latest social media platforms teens are using. For example, apps like Gaggle, Blendr and Omegle are popular among teens but can enable dangerous behaviors like cyberbullying and stalking by sexual predators.

The more important technology is to your teen, the more effective it will be as a consequence. And consistently using consequences is one of the best ways to change your teen's negative behaviors and reinforce and increase his or her positive behaviors.​​