If you’ve got teenagers, you know the constant stress of trying to keep them safe. The teen years are particularly tough because it’s the bridge from childhood to adulthood. They’re not dependent on you anymore, but not fully capable of navigating the world without guidance (even though they think they are!). Hormones mix chaotically with their developing brains resulting in bad decisions and a higher risk of danger.
Sadly, teenagers are targeted by criminals because they are more likely to be out of sight than small children. And their lack of worldly experience makes them vulnerable to threats or accidents. It’s important to talk to your teens about how to stay safe — both in and out of the home. Having just a few simple rules could make all the difference in keeping them safe and sound.
1) Behind the Wheel
Car accidents are the number one killer of teenagers. Kids who are just starting to drive don’t yet have the good judgment that comes from experience, and they also feel invincible, so they’re not anticipating the real dangers of the road. Set up ground rules around driving, such as keeping music at a reasonable level, the number of kids allowed in the car at one time, routes that are off limits (like major highways), and absolutely no texting or looking at devices while driving. There are a number of products on the market that will hold your phone on the dashboard so you can view maps, if necessary.
2) Power in Numbers
When teens are going out at night, it’s important that they stick together and always have a “buddy” to be accountable for. Kids walking down streets or driving alone at night are particularly vulnerable to targeted attacks or simply at risk for a mishap they’re not prepared to handle (like a flat tire). Make sure you know who your kid is with at all times, and have the numbers of their parents if you need to communicate with them.
3) The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media
While your teen’s physical safety is paramount, they are actually more vulnerable to danger while online. Predators will target teens who are active on social media (and they’re ALL active on social media) to try to develop trust and find an inroad into their lives. Because kids are posting every detail of their lives and their ever-changing locations, it’s not very hard for a predator to learn intimate details while hiding behind a fake persona. Tell your teen to never ever accept requests or communicate with someone they don’t know. If they can keep their profiles private, that’s ideal. Because kids can basically see anything at any time on the internet, you’ll want to download parental controls so you can see what apps and content they’re accessing. (Use your imagination.)
4) Keep Open Communication
This might be the most important one of all. If your kids know they can talk to you about anything, you’re more likely to hear about potential issues and they’re more open to receiving your advice. The teen years can be a time of rebellion as youngsters struggle to separate themselves from parents. Peer pressure is nothing new, but it is very real and can have dire consequences for kids who don’t feel emotionally grounded in their homes. Let your kids know there’s no topic that’s off limits. If they have questions or concerns, you want to be the first to know.
5) Set Curfews in Stone
Waking up in the middle of the night to realize your teen didn’t come home is every parent’s nightmare. Nothing good can come from kids being out and about at all hours of the night, so set a clear and non-negotiable curfew. Instead of sitting up to wait for them to come home, install a Guardline wireless driveway alarm to alert you when they’re home safe and sound. You can place the receiver in your bedroom so you don’t have to lie in bed wondering if they made it back. Rest easy knowing you’ll be notified the second they’re home. (In a world full of dangers, parenting teens is hard enough… this is just one way to make it a little easier.)
Until next time, be safe…