A high-school student shares how teens and tweens can use technology to keep in touch with their parents and each other.
Technology isn’t as bad as many parents think it is. They see our phones, computers and game consoles as a constant distraction, a huge time waster, or a mindless retreat into a fantasy world with no value whatsoever.
While all of this can be true — I found that even while writing this article I occasionally went to a few choice Internet sites — technology can benefit teens and their parents. Here are a few ways.
Texting: While parents see texting as impersonal because the texters aren’t hearing the recipient’s voice or seeing their facial expressions, texting can actually open the door to communication on a more personal level.
If we want to talk to someone privately, we can shoot them a text. Many teens start texting the person they have a crush on before they start showing any public interest. And if they are rejected, it usually doesn’t turn public, which saves a lot of potential embarrassment.
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Text topics can include quick details on a school assignment. When a parent says, “Stop texting already!” teens may truthfully claim that they are getting help on their homework.
Facebook: Parents tend to see Facebook as addictive, inane, and a home to bullies, rude posts and party photos that make kids feel left out. While this sometimes is the case, Facebook can also be an important part of a teen’s social life. We can post funny statuses that start an online conversation or watch a video that made someone ROTFL (roll on the floor laughing).
We can use Facebook to stay in touch with people we don’t see very often, like friends we met at a camp. When we do run into them again, it’s not as awkward because we have some idea of what they’ve been doing. We also can know if certain subjects are taboo, like an ex-girlfriend.
Skype: This is similar to texting, but conducted on the computer. One perk is that it’s mostly free, so parents don’t have to argue with teens about the cost and who pays how much. Like texting, it lets shy kids talk more easily with a classmate because they can take their time to answer and that can give extra confidence.
Online video games: This can be a big time-saver for parents by giving us a place to hang out without having to be driven someplace. We all are connected via our Xboxes or PlayStations, and even able to chat if we have headsets.
Almost every teen will tell you that playing a game online with friends is way better than playing it by yourself — so, you can see, it is social.
Parents also don’t need to worry about our whereabouts. If we are just sitting in the living room playing video games, they don’t have to fret about who we are out with and what we are doing.
Internet: Surfing the Internet can also spark conversation between parents and teens. We’d much rather talk about interesting stories we read online or show parents funny new YouTube videos than divulge the name of who we have a crush on, for example.
An extra benefit for parents: When they go to work, they’ll seem slightly cooler to their 20-something-year-old colleagues because they’ll know about Reddit, memes or Epic Meal Time.
Mobile devices: Smartphones probably seem like the most distracting technology on this list, with their access to games, email and Facebook — not to mention how we can take them anywhere in our pocket.
Here, too, parents can find something positive. In the car, parents can ask us to get directions if they are lost and we can use our phones to get them unlost. We can look up the latest score on the Mariners game. We can Google a questionable fact to solve an argument.
So there you have it, parents. Technology isn’t all that bad. Now please excuse me while I go check my Facebook.
Aidan Weed is a high-school sophomore in Seattle.