Would you believe teens may have stronger bonds with their online peers than with in-person relationships? With children spending seemingly endless hours online, their relationships with their peers are becoming “as strong as family” according to a August 2010 CNET article by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore-
…”teenagers reported feeling as much a part of their online communities as a part of their own families, and even more than a part of their offline hobby groups and neighbors.”
Teens are less likely these days to sit down with the family and watch a television show than to go into their room and get on the internet to connect with their online friends. The all important connections with family are insidiously diminishing. Kids are turning to their online worlds and less to family connections.
Teens are at their most vulnerable as they go through the difficult period of adolescence. Parents need to maintain and in some cases regain the strength of their parenting role in their teen’s lives, both offline and online, so that they are the major influence on their child, not their peers. The more teens are turning to their peers online for advise, guidance, and information, the less they are getting from parents, guardians or other responsible adults in their lives.
Being part of a child’s online life means knowing what your child is doing online. Who are their friends? What are they posting? What websites are they visiting? Knowing what your child is doing both online and offline allows parents to guide and teach and maintain the strength of the parental role. Limiting the amount of time a child is online with their peers so that they are spending time with family is also essential. The parenting bond is key in adolescents, keep it strong.