Help! My son’s becoming an Internet Kid!

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Internet kidInternet 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?

Please feel free to leave a comment about this topic, Internet kid, in the box below.

Comments

4 Responses to “Help! My son’s becoming an Internet Kid!”
  1. Andrea says:

    I think it’s ridiculous how children would much rather text a friend whose sitting less than 50 feet from them, than get up, walk over, and talk to their friend. I believe that the “Internet Kid” is becoming lazier and lazier. Instead of going outside and playing, they’d rather sit on the Wii and play sports, not getting any physical activity.

  2. I agree with the advice that Dr Vicki has given. We should prepare ourselves for the fact that the Internet is a way for kids and teens to communicate, express themselves, and to them it’s a way of life. It’s not ever going to go away. The Internet and all it has to offer is amazing, and they know this! The key is to set boundaries like you would in the traditional sense, and take an active interest in your child’s online activities, and that includes interacting with them, such as playing an online game with them, much the same as we would kick a ball around with our son outside; or taking an interest in their online friends. Think of the Internet as a playground; if you have a rule that your teen must be home by 8.00pm then could it be fair to negotiate a “curfew” on Internet or game use? After all the Internet is a new age playground…just billions of times larger and with unlimited access to almost everything! The cyber era has pounced rather than crept up on us, so the idea of interacting with our kids is understandably a large task for many parents, so if you can find a way to educate yourself about the different aspects of the Internet and set fair boundaries, then you are on your way to becoming a cyber savvy parent. Good luck!

  3. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Thank you so much for these very insightful comments! Viewing the internet as a playground is absolutely brilliant! And, on any playground, there are rules to follow, limits and curfews, desirable and potentially undesirable playmates, etc. Great paradigm! Thanks again for helping to raise the consciousness of the parents of today! Enjoy your kids!

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    Help! My son’s becoming an Internet Kid! : Better Parenting Institute…

    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 substit…



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