Sue Scheff: Is Your Teen Sitting in Front of the Computer All Day?

Sarah Newton's Blog and Podcasts at Gen Y Guide has some great parenting information for parents today and the technology our kids are using! We need to try to stay ahead of our kids - it is summer - check this Blog out - I am sure many can relate!
Sick of your child sitting in front of the computer all day?
By: Carol McNaughton via Sarah Newton (check out the Gen Y Website!)

Let’s face it, there is always plenty to do during the summer holidays. That isn’t the challenge. It is finding something our kids, especially teens, would rather do than sitting in front of the computer. When every suggestion is met with, “Boring!” what can a parent do? With two teens and a nine year old at home I know exactly where you are coming from and how difficult this can be. Is there a solution? Definitely!

Let’s take a quick look at our children’s generation, Generation Y or The Milleniums, to see who and what we are dealing with.

Research has shown that Gen Y are:
• Technologically brilliant
• More globally orientated
• Ethnically diverse
• Better educated
• Socially tolerant
• Environmentally conscious
• Volunteer in record numbers

All positive attributes but you may still be thinking, “All well and good but how on earth do I get them off the computer and out doing something?” Firstly, we need to make our young people part of the solution. Secondly, we need to engage them from their point of view rather than trying to get them to see or do things from ours.

Our techno savvy children approach many areas of their lives via the net. If they need to get information for a school project, they check it out on the net. If they want to contact friends, they do it over the net. To us at their age, socializing meant face to face contact or talking over the phone. Gen Y may still do this but they are also constantly communicating with friends over the net through social networking groups or msm. If we want to engage our young people we must accept that computers are an integral part of their lives and use them in creative ways to connect with our young.

With a little encouragement we can get our young adults out and about, even with the rest of the family. The best way to start is to have a casual conversation, possibly over dinner, about up coming plans. “What has everyone got planned for the summer holidays? What would you like to do?” Younger siblings will usually start talking first while your teens may just roll their eyes or say nothing. If your teen doesn’t respond ask, “Is there a sport or art you’d like to try?” Still no positive response, ask everyone, “What could we do on rainy/sunny days?” or “How about….?” Keep brainstorming different ideas without censoring. When ideas start to slow down suggest topics or themes such as historical sites, volunteering, music etc. Some of the ideas will be suitable for the whole family but others will be individual pursuits. The idea is to open up the conversation and plant “idea” seeds in their minds.

“Where else can we find out what’s happening during the summer?” will help children focus on other resources such as magazines, newspapers and the net, sports centres, and helps encourage independent thinking which is so vital in school. In these tougher economic times, asking for “cheap day out” activities can help children understand the value of money and they often come up with some wonderfully creative ideas. How about an all day pajama party for the family with movies and popcorn? Or get your children to cook dinner? Give them a budget; let them create the menu, do the shopping, cooking and table preparation. It could become an enjoyable family tradition. Setting a budget and challenging a teen to plan a family day can also be very effective and fun.

It is always a good idea to plan some down time so everyone can just kick back and relax. Unscheduled time is so important especially for children who are normally over scheduled. It gives them an opportunity to experience boredom and learn how to entertain themselves. For your teens that downtime might mean spending time on the computer catching up with friends. And that’s ok. It’s all about balance.

In our house we have planned our summer visit back to the UK as a family. One evening we sat around the dining table with laptops on researching hotels, local attractions as well as planning our route. It was great to see each child involved and making, and of course rejecting, ideas. Will everything go as planned? No. Will everyone be happy with each choice made? No. However, as each of the children was involved in the whole process they are more likely to give and take, and participate even in activities they don’t particularly like.

Getting our children off the computer may mean getting them on it more in the beginning. Making the computer your friend rather than the enemy and getting your techno savvy Gen Y to help to do research on the net will give you a greater chance of getting them outside enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Carol McNaughton Ho is the creator of Fusion Parenting. Through coaching and consulting she helps parents prepare their children to face the ever shrinking world as responsible, independent young adults who are motivated, have a voice and a strong cultural identity. Carol can be contacted at carolmcnaughtonho@yahoo.com.

Popular posts from this blog

Sue Scheff: Learning More About Teens and the Internet

Young Adults Out-of-Control: Dealing with an 18 Year-Old Child

Wood Creek Academy - Spring Creek Lodge