What is your opinion on teenage parenting
What Should Parents Know About Teens and Online Dating?
As adult online dating has become the new normal, we ask our experts to shed some light on how this phenomenon affects teens and what parents can do to keep them safe.
How do I know if my teen is ready for an online relationship or online dating?
If your teen is showing interest in any type of romantic or physical relationship, it is very likely that they are already dating online. This will likely start by sending messages out to people they already know, social media and dating apps that they can use to get in touch with anyone. Relationships come with the whole package - from joy, excitement, and pleasure to heartbreak, embarrassment, inadequacy, and despair. So, as a parent, you have to be ready.
Show interest in all of their relationships. Talk to them about what it means to be loved and respected - whether face-to-face or online. Discuss your right to privacy and the importance of protecting your body and heart. Be curious but not obstructive, vigilant but not dominant. The ultimate goal is that your relationship is strong enough that your teen lets you in and knows that you are there, that you love them, and that you care.
What can I do to encourage my child to make safer decisions when it comes to online romantic relationships?
The internet, social media, and even online video games allow children and teenagers to play together, make connections, and sometimes forge romantic relationships online. Parents cannot monitor every moment of their child's online life, but parents can ensure that their children are able to think critically and make safer decisions while online.
All online relationships, whether platonic or romantic, should allow children and teenagers to develop and learn important social skills and boundaries. Parents can prepare their children for healthy online relationships by having a conversation about healthy relationships.
For younger children, parents can try role-playing games. When creating scenarios of what to do when a friend is mean, they will ask you to do something you are not familiar with, and so on.
With older children, parents need to create an open line of communication so that parents can talk about what a healthy relationship looks like by respecting your child's individuality, opinions, and beliefs.
What do I do if I find out my child has an online-only relationship with someone I don't know?
Online dating, especially for adults, has gotten easier with apps like Tinder, Bumble, and many others. Swiping right is the new path to this day. For young people, the trend is also becoming the new normal.
Instead of getting annoyed with your child for using online dating sites, take the time to speak to them and understand their reasons for online dating.
Talk to your child about basic ways to protect themselves from potential online risks, such as sexting and location sharing. Even though they are teenagers, it is always good to remind them of the importance of protecting their identities.
More importantly, guide your child so they can protect themselves while chatting online. Teach them how to recognize when someone is taking advantage of them. For example, when a person asks for a nude selfie or asks them to turn on the webcam.
Find out how your child got to know this person. Whether they met through a popular social media site, dating app, or platform, it's important to make sure your child isn't hanging out in the wrong place online like you would in the real world. Keep in mind that many dating sites are made for adults over the age of 18.
Also, try to find out as much as you can about the person he / she is dating. Don't be judgmental, be interested. Ask the questions you would normally ask when your child is with this person in the real world. For example, what does he / she look like, where he / she goes to school, etc.
Don't be afraid to do your own homework and try to find out who your child is with. You can talk to your child so they don't feel like you are invading their privacy.
Stay calm, stay positive, and have open conversations with your child so they can share things that may affect them. Be ready to listen and don't forget to talk about the risks of meeting someone you don't know. Explain to them that, for safety reasons, you do not think it is a good idea to meet a stranger without letting you know beforehand.
Knowing that your child is dating can be an interesting domain for parents, and many of the conversations I have with parents in therapy discuss what it means for the young person. Talking about relationships as two-way conversation can help young people identify patterns of interpersonal connection. Using the highway traffic metaphor, you can discuss the exchange of information / conversations as reciprocal and equivalent, bidirectional, lawful, never accelerate traffic to drive faster than safe, and also know when to switch from another driver The lanes get promoted before you're ready.
You can use this metaphor of cars and driving to explain your worries to your child and tell them that you want to make sure they are safe, that they are wearing a seat belt to avoid accidents, and that some cars are faster than others. Ask them to pay attention to their physical signals when communicating with this person and to speak to you if they feel unsafe or unsafe.
Holding this space as a parent can make you feel unsafe for us too. So don't scold your child and let them go into your lane for conversation.
How can vulnerable young people be protected from the risks of online dating?
Parents and caregivers should talk about what a good relationship looks like in any setting, rather than worrying excessively about the online world. What's OK? It seems that teenagers believe it is a sign of trust between a couple when their partner looks through your phone without permission, and more than a third of boys believe that nude picture sharing is expected in a relationship.
More than half of young people with mental health problems shared a picture "because I was in a relationship and wanted to share it". Young people who are vulnerable offline are more than twice as likely as their peers to agree to meet someone they met online. People with hearing loss or learning difficulties later said they were most likely not about my age.
So-called online relationships may not be anything like that. People with hearing loss, eating disorders, mental health problems, care experiences, or those who say I am worried about home life were more than twice as likely as other teenagers to report that “someone tried to persuade me to engage in unwanted sexual activity ".
Do not support shame or guilt
While parents should be vigilant, they should also aim to strengthen their child's skills:
- Talk about relationships openly and often
- State what is okay and what is not
- Explain that some people online are not who they say they are
- Some people are not nice - it's hard, but there are others who are
- Some relationships are breaking up and it's heartbreaking, but there will be more to come
- You are a valued and loved person and you don't have to prove it to anyone by doing things that we agreed to and that are not okay
- Your body is private
- Discuss situations and explore, 'What would you do if ...? Or what do you think a fictional person should do when this happens to them?
- Encourage conversational tactics to solve problems with a trusted adult
- Understand the importance of an online identity
- Do not support, shame, or blame the youngster when a problem arises
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