Drugs, unprotected sex, drinking, bullying, smoking — the list of
parental worries often seems endless. And just when you think you have
all the potential problem areas covered, your child or teen suddenly
seems "addicted" to Facebook and other online social media sites. Is
that even possible?

According to psychologist Kimberly S. Young, Ph.D. of the Center for
Online Addiction, teen Internet addiction is becoming a growing problem.
While there aren't any hard numbers to indicate just how many teenagers
are becoming addicted to the Internet, Young estimates that five to 10
percent of Internet surfers suffer from some degree of Internet

Additionally, a recent Canadian study involving more than 5,000
children and teenagers revealed that 70 percent of parents know little
or nothing about their kids' online activities.
The study, which was
conducted by the Ottawa, Ontario-based Media Awareness Network, also
found that 70 percent of 13- and 14-year-olds admit to visiting private
and adults-only chatrooms. What's more, most of these teenagers freely
admitted that they were breaking family rules by visiting these

Another study from York University in Canada claims that Facebook
users are "insecure, narcissistic, and have low self-esteem."
So, does
your child's Facebook habit mean you're a bad parent? No. But it does
mean you have to establish some new rules and household routines. Here
are a few things to consider:

1) Facebook Shouldn't Become a Surrogate For Real Friendships and Activities

Everyone needs face time with other people, not just screen time.
Physical presence with others promotes deeper connection, and all people
need to be touched, hugged and attended to. Therefore, just as you
likely have rules about TV time and phone time, you also need a rule
about Internet time.

Of course, kids today need to be online for school projects and
learning opportunities. The problem is when parents automatically assume
their children are online for educational purposes and don't question
the child's real Internet use. Realize that it's easy to look busy at
the computer, as if serious learning were taking place (just think how
often you "look busy" at work when the boss walks by). That's why
parents need to take a sincere interest in what their kids are doing
online, beyond installing Internet monitoring software.

This is about talking with your kids, learning about their school
projects and friends, and asking them thought-provoking questions about
their day.
For example, rather than simply asking, "How was your day at
school?" (which typically elicits the response, "Fine"), ask something
like, "What was your favorite part of today?" or, "What three new things
did you learn today?" Such questions prompt more than a one-word answer
and help you build connection with your child.

2) Help Your Child Uncover His or Her Passion

Everyone needs a purpose in life; your children are no different. If
you want your children to limit their Facebook time (or time on other
social media sites), you have to help them find an alternative.
saying, "Don't go on Facebook so much," won't prompt any change in
behavior, as your children won't have any other activity to do that
engages them. Therefore, as you start talking with your child more,
probe to uncover his or her likes and dislikes.

There are so many things kids can get involved in these days, from
sports to dance to groups of specialized interests. There are also
numerous volunteer options, such as with a local humane society, senior
center, library, museum or non-profit organization. Essentially, no
matter what interests your child, chances are there's some way for your
child to put that interest to good use.

When kids have a passion for something, Facebook and other social
media sites will no longer seem important.
Rather, they'll have a bigger
desire to fuel their passion. And if their passion is something you or
another sibling or friend can get involved in, too, that will make the
transition to the new activity even easier.

3) Teach Your Children How to Use Facebook

One of the challenges with social networking sites is that they
subtly teach children to commoditize relationships. In a child's mind,
if someone has 4,000 Facebook friends and the child only has 400, it
means that the other person is more valued. That's the kind of lazy
logic that creeps into many kids' thinking.

To combat this type of thinking, ask your kids, "How many of your
Facebook friends actually contribute to your life? How do these friends
add value to you? What do you know about these people other than what
they post on Facebook?"

Additionally, teach your children how to use Facebook responsibly.
For kids, Facebook is a way to talk about homework and common interests
with peers, and a way to keep extended family updated about daily
happenings. For example, if your child gets the lead in the school play,
makes the varsity team or gets all As, that's information worth posting
on Facebook, as it eliminates the need to call and tell everyone the
good news.

However, if your child is friending people they don't know, that's
when Facebook becomes dangerous and opens the door to cyber-bullying,
bad influences, and unforeseen dangers. Help your child realize that for
their purposes, Facebook is not for meeting strangers around the world.
They need to keep their network to known friends and family only.

4) Take a Proactive Approach to Facebook

Remember that Facebook can become catnip for attention-starved kids.
Sadly, there are some kids who are basically raising themselves. They
have no structure, no discipline and no one to give them the healthy
attention every child craves and needs. Facebook can feed into this
hunger for attention by incentivizing kids to "act out," post
provocative pictures of themselves, or post shocking statements that can
boomerang back on them and hurt their future.

Therefore, even if you're not on Facebook or think it's nothing more
than a dumb waste of time, you can't ignore Facebook or social media any
longer. Your kids are using it whether you approve or not. That's why
you have to educate yourself about social media and be proactive in
terms of how your children use Facebook. By getting involved in all
aspects of your child's life, including their cyber life, you can teach
them how to use Facebook responsibly and instill in them a true passion
worth pursuing.


Source: Huffington Post – http://goo.gl/EzwiU