We have a lot more in common with our teens than we usually like to admit. In my work with adults and young people, the parallel uses and beliefs about technology are often a perfect match. Don't believe me? See below! You said so yourself! Now, I think your teens need to hear it from you.
Disclaimer: Saying "I understand" does not prevent us from parenting. It does not stop us from setting boundaries and having consequences -- natural or otherwise. It does not stop us from having conversations and feeling feelings based on our beliefs and values. It does, however, build a bridge instead of a wall. All kinds of amazing things can happen when we can relate. Give it a try.
1. I love technology too. A lot. Like so much. I sometimes worry that I use it too much. It's everywhere. It's constant. It's hard to put down. I understand.
2. I sometimes feel left out when I look at other people's pictures online. I feel like I should be doing something more or different or better. I understand.
3. I have been misunderstood online. I have said something I shouldn't have. I have commented out of impulse. I have made mistakes. I understand.
4. I play apps and games all the time. In the bathroom. In the waiting room. During your soccer game. While you're telling me an important story. And when I'm not gaming, I want to be. I understand.
5. Technology distracts me from my work. A task that should take half an hour can take me all morning because I start reading articles and watching videos and scrolling my news feeds constantly. I understand.
6. I like likes. I understand.
7. I want to binge watch all kinds of stuff like you do. I'm so jealous. And even though I make you go outside for a little sunshine and do chores and homework and eat meals at the table, I really want to curl up under the covers too. I understand.
8. I have seen things on the internet I wish I didn't see. Often by accident. Sometimes I've followed a trail of "can't stop" clicks. Please don't remind me of them. It's hard to get it out of my head. I understand.
9. Insert the thing you would have done with technology when you were young: (I'll help you out with a little example): I totally would have sexted. Or at least gateway sexted or impulse sexted or been sexual in reference or implication or at least tried really damn hard to be sexy. I probably would have sent that pic. I understand.
10. You can come to me. I can handle it. I will help you. Even if I'm unsure, I will still help you. Even if I have feelings of anger or sadness or uncertainty, we can figure it out. We are stronger together. I understand.