Setting Boundaries with Teens – Technology

This week on Imagine Hope’s blog, we are tackling an important yet often controversial topic—setting boundaries with teens. Your teenager will never, ever tell you this—but they crave boundaries. Just like adults want consistency, routine, and to know what is expected of them, teens unknowingly want much of the same. Boundaries create a sense of security, comfort, and an expectation of what is/is not acceptable.

If you can remember being a teen yourself, you may recall how difficult it was. Between the hormones, pressures of school, dating, body image issues, drama, and acne—your teenage years may not be the highlight of your life. If you think it was hard when you were a teen, imagine how difficult it is in this day in age (remember, we survived our teens years without the added pressures of social media, cyberbullying, body shaming online, and the permanency of digital pictures).

Teens Need Technology Boundaries

I cannot begin to count the number of parents I meet who trust their teenagers. This may sound like a funny statement. Of course you want to trust your teens! But as a therapist who works with teens, I see a lot. Unfortunately, I often see the bad side of the wonderful technology that is available today. I see parents who trust their teens and forget that their teenagers do not think like adults. They have the attitude of “Not my kid” or “My teen would never do THAT”.

Let me tell you something—your teen would do THAT.  Your teen would send nude pictures. I’ve seen it happen to teenagers from all walks of life. They don’t have the foresight to understand the long-term consequences of hitting that “send” button. They don’t understand that sending and receiving nude pictures is possession of child pornography if the person is under the age of 18. They don’t understand that nothing is ever fully erased.

Your teen will post dumb things online on their social media accounts or send texts. Things that cannot be erased and may haunt them for a lifetime. Your teen will do this because their brain is still developing, and they don’t have the insight to understand how their choices now can impact them later.

So, please set technology boundaries so that you can protect your teenager. Monitor their phones, social media accounts, and computers. I know some will argue that this is an invasion of privacy. You are correct, it is. But in this day and age, your children need parented more than ever before. Don’t be naïve and think that your teen is immune to all of this. Set appropriate boundaries to be proactive, instead of being reactive when a crisis arises.

I tell parents that I work with that if you are going to provide a phone, computer, or tablet to your teenagers, you have a right to ask to see it whenever you want. You need to have passwords to all devices as well as to social media accounts. This is the only way that you can assure that your teens are trustworthy. Don’t just assume.

Please check back this week to read about more ways to set boundaries with teenagers.

Written by: Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group.  Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling.  Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.