Take a moment and think about all the technology your teen uses on a regular basis. Computers, televisions, cell- phones, gaming devices, Blackberries, and iPods may come to the top of your mind.
Have you ever asked yourself, What does my teen do with all this stuff?
Thats a very good question! Youve probably seen your teen doing homework, instant messaging friends and listening to an iPod all at the same time.
Multi-tasking at its finest or is it? It can be overwhelming to keep up with all of these advanced technologies.
If you havent paid enough attention to your teens media and technology activities because you dont understand what they are doing, if youre intimidated by these new technologies, or you fear intruding on your teens privacy, then this Teens and Technology section is a must-read.
A good place to start is Digital Technology 101, which provides parents with simple information to help you understand new technologies and monitor your teens digital activities in the interest of safety.
You can also download and print the materials in the Teens and Technology-Resource Package.
While technology offers many positive things, like connectedness and information, those same attributes, if misused, can also be quite harmful.
Without the proper guidance and monitoring, teens can be lured into a sphere of digital and real-world dangers.
Just as you monitor where your teens go and with whom they spend their time, so, too, you should be monitoring their digital activities.
Perhaps you are already aware of the risks facing your teen through new communication technologies and have taken steps to protect your kids.
If not, try going to your Internet browser, select a search engine (popular ones are Google, AOL and Yahoo), and type in the word marijuana. Notice what sites come to the top of the list.
Some links are to anti-drug Web sites, such as this one, TheAntiDrug.com. But an overwhelming number of others promote marijuana and general drug and alcohol use with great enthusiasm.
For example, when you type How to Beat a Drug Test into a Google search, it takes less than one half of a second to see a list of 19 000 citations.
Searching for Grow Marijuana takes even less time and retrieves 156 000 citations.
My friends and I ordered some legal marijuana (sic. smoking herbs) online, which was terrible. I also learned how to make things from LSD to beer. Sean, age 17.
In the cyber neighbourhood, teens can purchase prescription drugs without a prescription, then turn around and sell them to their peers at school.
They can quickly access information about how much cough syrup a person can take based on his/her weight in order to get and maintain a high feeling, or find websites that encourage eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
And with a few quick clicks of a mouse, they can also download music, movies and videos with pro-drug messages or themes.
Chances are your teen not only has access to a computer, but a cellphone and possibly a hand-held device (like a Blackberry), too.
Do you know how they are using these items?
Heres what one 17-year-old, currently in treatment for drug addiction, revealed: My cell-phone was the most important tool for me to get drugs.
I kept all of my drug dealers names in my phone book on my cell phone and would sometimes put them under other names so nobody could find out.
Remember, parents are the most important influence in their childs life and the biggest barrier against risky behaviours, such as drug use.
Learn what you need to in order to be a part of their world . . . including their technological world!