"Hero or Villain: Steering Teens in the Right Direction"Today’s teens experience dating in a whole different way than their parents did.  Technology has made it possible for kids to be dating, and parents not to have any idea about what is going on.

Gone are the days where a phonecall comes in via a family landline, and the intended recipient of that phonecall may not answer the call, allowing parents to know who is calling at the house.  Today, mom or dad may never communicate directly with the teen’s friends.  This is further complicated because many teens have their own Ipods, Ipads, and cell phones, making communication amongst themselves easier and sneakier than ever.

So what are some ideas for parents to deal with this new technology when it comes to their teens dating?

1. Don’t assume that just because you have not been introduced to anyone or talked to anyone, that your teens are not dating

Technology makes it possible for teens to be in constant contact with other teens through texting, facetime, and social media sites.  The fact that many children have their own cell phones can make it trickier to monitor where the calls are coming from.

All of this technology makes it very easy to set up dates without using the family’s landline.

2. Don’t assume that dating only occurs during the evening hours

Again, technology makes it easier than ever to communicate with one another when one’s parents are not home yet from work, or when they are going out for an evening alone.

As a parent, whenever possible, try doing unannounced visits to your home or wherever your children are meeting up with someone.  This allows you the chance to monitor the situation a bit more, and also lets the teens know that you could show up at any minute.

3. Don’t assume that your children will never sext

Because teen brains are not fully developed, they do not always understand the full consequences of their actions.  Therefore, it is your responsibility to explain to them what can potentially happen if they sext with others, such as their pictures ending up in the hands of others they never intended or on the internet for the world to see.

4. Allow supervised use of the technology devices

Although this is not always possible, such as when your teens bring their cell phones to school with them, you do want to supervise the use of any of these devices as much as possible.

This may involve using devices in common areas of the home, and not alone in their bedrooms, for example.

Another important way to monitor is that the teens’ devices must be kept in the parents’ bedroom at night, so that you know no communication is going on after hours.

In summary, technology has made it easier for teens to communicate with one another, including making dates.  Parents need to realize that things are different from when they were kids, but that being involved in the life of your teen never changes.