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People Are Talking…

by Editorial Staff--Suburban Family Magazine
What Are Kids Thinking?
Should parents monitor children’s web use?

Juliet Brooks, Cherry Hill East High School, grade 10
“I love my parents as much as anyone. I tell them everything about my life; they’re two of my best friends in the whole world. My friends often tease me because I spend my weekends hanging out with my family, but even I have my limits. I don’t want my parents to be my Facebook friends. What I say to my peers does not have to be transmitted, word for word, to my mother’s computer screen. The idea of parents monitoring their kids’ Internet use is ridiculous. It totally destroys any bond of trust that might have existed between parents and children.
I’m not asking for the car keys. I’m asking for a little bit of privacy. I know that in creating a Facebook [page], I am forfeiting a good amount of that privacy, but I honestly don’t think that parents should friend their teenagers on Facebook, read over their kids’ shoulders, or otherwise monitor Internet use. I can understand blocking websites, and setting out guidelines before a kid starts using the computer, but to continually check on your child is a violation of trust that will make it more difficult for a family to function.”

How Do I …Get my child motivated to do homework?

Ed Douglas, Health and Physical Education teacher at Beck Middle School in Cherry Hill
“A technique to motivate students to do their homework is to relate the work to their lives and family. Try and show the student how the information can be important and useful to them. As a health teacher, I am always telling the students that they are learning about themselves. I try to have them personalize the topics and see how the subject matter influences different aspects of their lives. This way they can see the relevance in all that they do and how it impacts them throughout life. When we discuss nutrition I have the students keep a food and exercise log. This often is an eye-opening experience and can be a lifestyle change for them and their family. Family inclusion and interest in student work can be great motivator.”

Mom vs. Mom
At what age should children be allowed to play outside unsupervised?

Jamie Fairchild, Moorestown mother of Aidan, 8 and Luke, 6. “We are fortunate to have a fenced backyard where I allow my two boys to play outside unsupervised. There I can keep a ‘loose’ eye on them, checking on them often or if things get too quiet. But a lot depends on the child and the situation. For example, if we are having a playdate, I watch constantly from the window, that way they feel independent and I know they are safe. I’m not comfortable with them playing in the front yard unsupervised yet, but believe between the ages of 9 and 11, it would be appropriate. Some would view this as overprotective. I believe parents walk a fine line here. Ultimately, it comes down to what you as parent are comfortable with.”

Tina Lambe, Washington Township mother of Colin, 11 and Dylan, 15. “I let my children play outside unsupervised at around age 7, but that is because I live in a neighborhood where most of the kids live on two streets that connect and there is no block involved. I always knew where they were. To go any further it was probably age 9. At this age, I was comfortable that they would tell me where they were going and who they would be with. I was comfortable with their safety practice of crossing a neighborhood street at designated corners and they were knowledgeable about strangers. I think I was comfortable because they were walking to and from school in a neighborhood pack of kids. It was a gradual level of independence—I needed to know they could be independent and mature enough before middle school started (age 11, sixth grade). Even though they were branching out, I knew the other moms in the neighborhood would keep an eye out for them, as I would for theirs.”

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 (April, 2011).
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