Teens are gaining increasing independence from their families, and should be given plenty of opportunities to develop and demonstrate good judgment. Parents are aware that today’s world poses many risks to their teenagers, but may not know how to help their son prepare.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, twitter, blogs, chat rooms and more. Technology offers a whole new world of opportunities for teens to connect with others that were not available when their parents were teens.
Recent studies indicate that more than half of all teens have created an online profile that allows them to invite others to be their “friend” on the Internet. Most use these sites for fun and to communicate with friends.
Many of these online sites, however, pose dangers for children and teens who are unaware that a danger even exists. Teens who use these sites often provide personal information that can assist a predator in stalking them. Recent studies show that 20 percent of middle and high school students, who accepted a “friend of a friend” into their social network, eventually ended up meeting that person, in person.
Tips to keep your son safe on the Internet include:
- Talking with your son about the dangers of Internet use.
- Helping him select which social networking sites to use.
- Restricting your child’s page by using your computer’s privacy settings.
- Not buying your son a cell phone with Internet capabilities (you cannot restrict access to the Internet on these devices).
- Keeping the computer in plain sight areas, such as in the kitchen or family room.
- Insisting on knowing your son’s password, so you can monitor his online profile and who he is visiting with online.
- Teaching your teen to reject friends who he hasn’t met in person.
- Not letting your child meet anyone he met online. Or at the very least, insisting on being present when they meet.
Learning to drive a car is a rite of passage for your teenager. With this great freedom comes great responsibility. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. More than half of these fatal crashes are attributed to unsafe speed, failure to yield the right-of-way and improper turns. Approximately 5 percent of automobile fatalities involve alcohol and/or drugs.
To help keep your son safe, know and enforce Oregon’s provisional driver’s license restrictions, which are as follows:
Until 18 years of age: Teen drivers are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device. This includes talking on a cell phone and texting.
First six months: Teen drivers are not allowed to drive with a passenger under age 20 who is not a member of their immediate family.
Second six months: Teen drivers cannot drive with more than three passengers under age 20 who are not members of their immediate family.
First 12 months: Teen drivers cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless they are:
- Driving between home and work.
- Driving between home and a school event for which there is no other transportation available.
- Driving for employment purposes.
- Accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old.
Passenger and night driving restrictions only apply until your teen is 18, or until your teen has had a provisional license for one year, whichever comes first.
Passenger restrictions do not apply when your teen is driving with an instructor as part of a certified traffic safety education course or with a parent, stepparent, or legal guardian who has valid driving privileges.
Tips to protect your teen-at-the-wheel include:
- Sending your son to driver’s education class.
- Teaching your son to obey speed limits. Excessive speed and a lack of depth perception, which helps determine how much time it will take to stop, are common pitfalls among inexperienced drivers.
- Knowing where your teen is going, which route he’s taking.
- Asking your son to call when he reaches his destination.
- Setting limits on driving during the dark, weekends, bad weather and summer (the season with the highest number of fatal crashes among teens).
- Emphasizing the crucial importance of never drinking and driving, and never getting in the car with a driver who has had even a single alcoholic beverage.
- Working out a secret code word that your son can use when calling you that means he needs you to come pick him up from a situation where he is in over his head with friends.
- Stressing the importance of wearing a seatbelt, every single time your child drives.
- Teaching your son to refrain from driving while upset.
- Leading by example. When you drive with your teen, don’t use your cell phone, speed or drive erratically.
At home alone
Plenty of “good kids” make bad choices when they are home alone. And many parents are afraid to have their teenage children stay home without adult supervision. At some point, however, you need to give your son a chance to develop good judgment and exercise his independence in a safe setting. If he feels uncomfortable staying home alone, don’t push it. When he’s ready, have a heart-to-heart discussion that outlines your expectations while you’re away. Be very clear about which activities will not be tolerated. Agree to some consequences and rewards for good behavior while you are gone.