When your children were preschoolers, you paid close attention when they and their friends were all having a playdate. From making sure that everyone shared the toys to providing everyone with goldfish crackers and apple juice, you stayed pretty busy keeping an eye on your little ones.
As your kids got older you backed off a bit on your vigilance, allowing your elementary-school children to play in their rooms with their friends; letting your middle-schoolers head to the local park with their buddies for an hour or so. Now that your children have morphed into teenagers, you still need to keep tabs to ensure they make good, safe choices, but it’s not quite as easy as it was when they were toddlers.
Consider these ideas to keep and eye on your kiddos:
Make Your Home Fun and Welcoming
It is a lot easier to keep tabs on your teens when they are at your house instead of hanging out with friends at the mall, park or a friend’s house. Encourage your teens to invite their friends over. Make your home teen-friendly but ensuring enough fun teen activities like video games, music systems, a basketball hoop and plenty of snacks. Keep the game systems in the family room or living room so it’s easy to walk through from time to time and keep an eye on things.
Create Clear Rules
Part of being the parent of a teen is having to have the sometimes-tough talks about serious subjects like drugs and alcohol. Establish very firm house rules about alcohol and drugs, and let your teens know that this will not be allowed in your home at any time. Then, take an honest look at your house and see how easy it would be for your teen to be tempted by your liquor cabinet or any accessible prescription drugs. Keep these substances secure and also take a regular inventory of everything to make sure a few cans of beer haven’t magically walked away.
Set Up a Security Camera
If your teens and their guests like to spend a lot of time outside your home — in your backyard or maybe hanging out in the pool — install a security camera outside. This can be a great way to provide you with peace of mind. While you never want to allow an outdoor camera to take your place in terms of responsible parenting and vigilance, cameras can help to monitor teens when they are out of your view. Do-it-yourself security companies, such as Lorex Technology, offer high quality and reliable security camera systems that can help keep an electronic eye on your teens. Just knowing that the cameras are there might discourage your teen from sneaking in extra friends or making poor choices while you are out. A visible outdoor camera might also deter burglars from breaking into your home and putting your family in danger.
Use Apps to Monitor
In addition to your own eyes and ears, you can use the power of your smartphone to help watch your teen. There are a variety of apps that allow you to monitor texts, social media activity and more. The Teen Safe app allows you to see your children’s texts — even the ones that were deleted — as well as where their phone is currently located and who called them when. While you certainly don’t have to read your child’s personal messages, this app can help you to see who has been in touch with them if trouble arises. Also, the Footprints app keeps tabs on your teens’ whereabouts and lets you know, privately and discreetly, where they are, and it will also alert you when they have changed locations.