How to Better Understand Your Teen

Reality to Teen?  Do you ever feel that your teen is from another planet? They speak a language you don’t know. They have interests that you’ve never heard of and just don’t understand. It’s a common phenomenon. Teenagers are weird.

That being said, they’re your teenagers and there are steps you can take to get closer to them, to better understand them.

#1 Ask Questions and Listen

The first step to understanding your teen is to ask questions. Now there’s a strategy here. Many teens give yes/no answers when you ask them a question. The trick is to do it when they’re more likely to open up. Driving in the car seems to be a good time, assuming they don’t have their iPod blasting music in their little ears.

When you ask questions, make sure to listen to the answers – even if you don’t understand half of the words they’re using. It’s okay to ask for clarification. As you’re listening, take mental notes. They’ll come in handy in the next step.

#2 Google It!

If you have no idea what your child is talking about, Google it. Google the things they express interest in, the people, and even the language they use. The Urban Dictionary can be incredibly useful. For example, “Feels” – A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. “Watching Back to the Future gives me all sorts of nostalgic feels.”

#3 Eavesdrop

Seriously, one of the best ways to better understand your teen is to listen in on their conversations. True, most of their conversations are via text message so listening in on those conversations is impossible. However, you can snag their cell phone from time to time and scan through the text messages.

If that feels too invasive, try to be around them when they’re with their friends. Attend events with them. Volunteer to drive them and their friends to events. And encourage them to invite their friends over.

#4 Get Involved

Start taking an active interest in your teen’s interests. For example, if they’re involved in the local drama club then volunteer to help out with the club. If they are active online and have their own YouTube channel, then by all means watch that channel but also watch the other YouTubers that your child follows.

#5 Relax

Each generation has their own trends, language, and interests. Guaranteed, when you were a teenager your parents thought you were from another planet as well. It’s the way of the world. It’s okay to not be able to completely relate with your teenager. In fact, it’s normal.

Do what you can to connect with them. Let them know that you’re interested in their lives and then relax. You don’t need to be a friend with your teenager, nor do you need to share the same interests. It’s enough to let them know that you care.


Your Questions About Internet Safety Pictures

Steven asks…

Internet Safety?

What do you think is safe and non-safe for teenagers to post on the internet. With a picture, what can online predators find? I want to get a 360 but I’m not sure If I should.

Please persuad me to make the right desicion in order to help me keep myself safe from online predators and PERVES.

thanks so muchh

richmama answers:

If your kids are smart, they have nothing to worry about.

By the way, kids nowadays get a substantial part of their sex education from the internet. I learned the definition of fellatio, cunnilingus, (and the more colorful terms for them), etc by using when I was younger. Finding the answer on the internet is far less embarrassing than asking a real person.

David asks…

Have you ever posted videos or pictures of yourself on the internet? or are you to shy/safety conscious?

if you have, do you use sunglasses, etc to disguise yourself?

exhibit a)

richmama answers:

I post a lot of pictures on my Facebook. It allows me to just show pictures to the friends that I approve and my profile is set on private so that no one (who is not my friend) can see them.

I don’t edit mcuh with my photos, maybe just to fix the lighting or the colors. I sometimes wear sunglasses but not for disguising pourposes.

Jenny asks…

question about internet safety.?

i’m learning about internet safety at school, and it has made me a lot more aware. my teacher said if you post an image on the internet for more than 30 seconds, it will stay there forever. so i have myspace, facebook, and photobucket. myspace is private, photobucket is private, and facebook is only visible to people in the same network. is this safe? should i delete any of them? i don’t post like inappropriate pictures, but my future job might search me and see liike myspacey pictures and think i wasn’t studious when i was young? haha, i don’t know…. so which ones are safe?

richmama answers:

Well, I would say that if you are worried about other people seeing pictures that you have posted, then don’t post any pictures that you wouldn’t want a job interviewer to see. Facebook is relatively private… Myspace too if it is set to private, and I’m not sure about photbucket. As far as that more than 30 second thing, I don’t really buy it. Yaeh, the image will technically stay on the site’s servers until it is written over (probably pretty soon), but somebody would have to do some serious hacking to get ahold of them. If, of course, somebody has already saved one of your images to their computer, then you can’t totally erase all traces of your picture, and that person could do whatever they wanted with your picture (but, all of those sites are private, so your friends probably wouldn’t hurt you like that, right?)

Donald asks…

what are some good songs to put in an internet safety video?

basically, me and my friend had to make a video about online safety for our PSHEE homework.
The basic storyline is: A girl meets a man over the internet who claims he is 15 and he asks her to take pictures of herself naked. She emails him the pictures and the next day they meet up, but it turns out he is infact a 32 year old man. She does get away and she calls the police, he is then arrested and locked up.
However we need some music for it, but i dont know any suitable songs:(. they have to appeal to teens :)xx thanks xx

richmama answers:

The safety dance.

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Your Questions About Internet Safety For Teens

Linda asks…

Internet safety for my teen – How to properly end a story?

Last year, my 14 years old daughter broke the rule of “No contact with someone you haven’t seen with your own eyes”. Her internet access was removed for a year.

We gave her back internet last May 1st without MSN Messenger access. By using e-mails, she started to chat with this other 17 years old male teen. She gave him our phone number (he never called) and even accepted to go to his friend’s house (she wrote back saying the address he gave was wrong). How I know all this? easy: *I* am that other teen.

I created him and, like any other pedophile would do, told her what she wanted to hear. I find it unbelievable that she was ready to go inside a complete stranger’s house!

Now, the question: Where do I go with this? How would you end this story? Another long discussion? Simply remove internet for another year? somehow scare her to death?

Specify if you’re an adult or teenager. I’d love to hear comments/suggestions from teenagers as well!

richmama answers:

Taking away the computer doesn’t seem to be working… Talk to her, get her to understand why, she can’t do it… Otherwise she’ll still do it, just at the school/library/friends house. Sorry but just be telling her she can’t do it won’t stop her… You’ve got to make her understand why…

Donna asks…

Is there any online games for teens – MUST READ BEFORE POST?

Is there any online games for teens that teach you about internet safety and is fun? please no babyish websites like minyanland and woogiworld. Thank you.

richmama answers:

If you enable parental controls and family gamer status, you can play on Xbox Live without communicating verbally (auditory or text) with other players on any teen-rated game. However, there’s always the exceptionally perverse names that’ll pop up in game; so it’s not full proof.

The other players always have opportunities to abuse the system, so parental controls/family gamer on Xbox Live is the best I can think of. Applying the same kind of muting settings for Playstation or the Wii would work as well.

There honestly aren’t any educational computer games that’ll teach a teenager about internet safety. And if there are, they aren’t going to be fun. They might be funny, but the overwhelming amounts of teaching will be immediately evident to a teenager and probably overshadow any earnest engagement they’d have with the game…

Ruth asks…

Do you think MySpace is dangerous?

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says it’s received at least 288 MySpace-related complaints of inappropriate Internet activity– stats that Internet safety experts agree show teens aren’t being careful enough online.

richmama answers:

I’d blame it on parents but unfortunately kids can go to any internet cafe or friends house and get on myspace…and they’re going to if you don’t let them.

Just as well let them use it if they want and talk to them about the dangers of meeting strangers on there.

That’s something you should be teaching your kid anyway.

The media likes to oversensationalize this kind of thing. Last year it was shark attacks this year it’s myspace. Girls get raped on college campuses too it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send your kid off to college.

Mandy asks…

For “family safety” on the Internet, which is best, and why?

Bsecure (formerly Bsafe)

Net Nanny


Also, which of the above would be the most difficult for a computer savvy teen to bypass or hack?


richmama answers:

Either my wife or I sat right there with them when they got onto the computer. No teenager can shut down their parents, they didn’t like it but I didn’t care. There is to many creeps online today and teens have no clue of safety and danger what so ever. We had 8 kids and one computer it was in my home office. This office was locked up when I was gone and there was an alarm and if went off my cell phone would ring also. I had set times for each of them to use the computer for their home work. My wife had set time for them to use the computer just for fun. Both of us had set amount of time for each kid. We had a schedule set up for them so they knew when it was their turn.
Yes, it was a pain but we knew what they were doing at all times. If we as parents didn’t protect them then who would of?
These programs that they have today like Net Nanny the kids get right into them very easy. My son got into all these programs within 4 minutes. So with my wife or I sitting there; there was not problem and there was no worry.

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