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Totally Wired: Teens and Tweens Online

Totally Wired:  Teens and Tweens Online post image

This was an interview with Anastasia Goodstein, author of TOTALLY WIRED.  The interview is from 2007 but I think the content stands the test of time.

Last week I talked to Anastasia Goodstein, author of TOTALLY WIRED.  I talked to her for a long time for my other blog over at Disney’s Family.com.  I broke up my talk with Anastasia into two parts because it was so long.

The second part of my talk with Anastasia Goodstein, author of TOTALLY WIRED, is below.
You can read the first part of this post by going here.

Question:  Are there any “average” guidelines for how much time a child should spend online?

Every parent has to decide what level of technology use is appropriate for their child. You decide what they get to use, where they get to use it, and when they have to turn it off. Bill Gates allows his 10-year-old 45 minutes of recreational screen time a day during the week (it goes up to an hour on the weekends). Tweens will want to IM or instant message. It’s a fun way of chatting with friends or “buddies,” especially when you’re too young to drive. If you decide to let them IM, just make sure you know everyone on their buddy list and keep the computer in a family space so you can occasionally monitor the chat.


Question:  My younger daughter has friends in Club Penguin.  What about online communities?  Which ones are safe?
Most online communities are for teens 13 and up (MySpace is 14 and up). Tweens can try out being a part of an online community on sites like Club Penguin or Imbee.com. If you decide to let them have a profile on MySpace or Facebook at 14 or 15, it’s fair to require that they show it to you periodically, especially at 14.   A good website for parents is Common Sense Media.  Common Sense Media has ongoing reviews for parents of websites and games.

Question:  What’s your advice on cell phone use?

Many parents are buying cellphones for tweens as a way to keep tabs on them. There are companies like Firefly Mobile and Kajeet that make starter phones just for this age group so that you can easily limit their use.

With cell phones, you have to be clear about what the text messaging limits are and go over the bill with them each month.


Question:  What’s the main idea that you want to get across to parents with TOTALLY WIRED?

Whatever you do, just keep talking — even if they roll their eyes at you. Ask your tweens and teens to show you their favorite sites and games and how they work. Getting involved in their online lives will ultimately make you closer to your kids both online and off.

If you begin setting limits and establishing open communication with tweens, you can build trust and begin to give them more privacy and autonomy as they get older. With older teens, it’s important to talk to them about managing their online identities — using privacy settings and being aware that if they keep a public profile or blog, anyone may stumble across it like their friend’s parent, a college recruiter, future employer or teacher.

I have the book TOTALLY WIRED and I’ve found it very helpful.  If you want to read more about Anastasia Goodstein’s book, go to www.totallywiredbook.com for more information.


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