What are the dangers that parents should be aware of?
· Music and the Internet make drug use seem accepted and cool. In an analysis of the most popular songs of 2005, according to Billboard magazine 42 percent had a substance use reference of any kind (explicit, figurative, or place).
· The Billboard results suggest that the average adolescent is exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use per day, 591 references per week, or 30,732 references per year.
· In an analysis of online discussions about drugs and alcohol among teens of blogs, public chat rooms, message boards, and other online places, 28 percent of online messages about marijuana also often discussed other destructive behaviors such as drinking, smoking cigarettes, and cutting (self-mutilation).
· Even the youngest kids have access to risky material. The top online video destination for 2-11-year-olds is YouTube.
· Adolescence is a time for self-exploration and creative expression. Listening to different styles of music and watching videos offer a way for teens to explore the arts and establish their own creative tastes and styles.
· Talking to your teen about new artists they’re listening to or videos they’re watching, allow parents to understand a little bit more about the person your teen is becoming.
How can you monitor your teen’s video and music downloads?
1. Talk to your kids about your own values and expectations about sex and drug use. Otherwise, the main input they’ll get is from the media, Internet, and pop culture, which makes dressing sexy, experimenting with alcohol and drugs, and casual hook-ups seem like the norm.
2. Keep the lines of communication open. As your kids grow up and their tastes change, ask why they enjoy the music they regularly listen to and the videos they download.
3. Establish clear rules about what your kids can watch online and what they can download. Emphasize that they cannot visit porn sites or watch online clips of raunchy behavior, and check the computer history to see where they’ve been going.
4. Take an interest in what your kids are listening to and are excited about. If you flat-out reject their love of popular culture, they will be tempted to shut you out completely. Embrace their world, but establish clear boundaries about what you find acceptable and appropriate.
For advice on how to open the conversation about general computer use and how much time your teen is spending online, visit TheAntiDrug.com’s “Conversations for Parents: My Teen is Lost in Cyberspace.”
If you need extra help monitoring your teen’s activities online, like filtering software, then visit “Monitoring Tools” for additional suggestions.
Next: Understanding the Media
CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!