Help! My son’s becoming an Internet Kid!
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Internet kid is the term I give to any child who is turning to the Internet more and more for social interaction, information and entertainment. That sums up many of the kids of today. But what to do when this reliance on the Internet becomes a substitution for parenting? Here’s one mom’s dilemma and my advice about her Internet kid:
Dear Dr. Vicki: I am a single mom of 2 boys 11 & 12 yrs old. The oldest one is turning into a teenager, starting to find everything he likes from the Internet and being so stubborn. How should I start the communication with him without making him build a wall and away from me ?
Dr. Vicki’s response: From the way you phrased your question, you are already communicating a lot. You didn’t ask how do I punish him, discipline him or change him. And, you didn’t ask what should I tell him. Instead, you asked how do you start the communication—and you are already on the right track! Your child’s behavior is always an invitation for a conversation…not a lecture, command or sentence. But, an actual conversation.
A good place to start the communication with your Internet kid is by making what’s called an “I” statement. This puts the issue on you, rather than pointing the finger at your son. You may want to say something like, “I notice that you have really taken an interest in the Internet… What are some of your favorite sites?” or “Can you teach me to navigate my way around the web?” or “I’d really like to know what you are finding…” Appealing to his interests is a way of opening up the conversation, rather than shutting it down with condemnation.
That being said, if his stubbornness is breeding disrespect, then it is important to nip that behavior before it gets any worse. Tell him, he is welcome to his opinion, and needs to voice it in a respectful way. Tell him you are willing to discuss what he wants, but only when he can do it calmly and respectfully. If you feel that he is on Internet sites that are influencing him in negative ways, then remove those sites from his access. Remember that being on-line is a privilege, not a rite. And as a parent, you do have the responsibility of seeing to it that your Internet kid is being exposed to healthy things, whether that’s in the foods he eats, the people he hangs with, the movies and TV he sees and the Internet sites he visits.
Please note: While these tips were directly related to having conversations with your Internet kid, they are also fundamental for anytime you are talking with your children.
What do you think this mom should do about her Internet kid?