Why is the tech talk is more difficult than the sex talk?


Your ongoing offline conversations are what helps keep your teen in-check online. It’s important that you don’t loose your cool and keep those lines of communication open, many of us realize this isn’t always easy.

“Your teen may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom whispering in their head as their struggling with difficult online challenges.”

Remember when parents cringed at the thought of the sex talk? Reality is – they still aren’t comfortable with it, but the fact is, kids are probably finding more out about sex from their devices before the parents can even have that one big discussion.

There shouldn’t be a debate, both the tech and sex chat are imperative to all kids today. The major difference is that the tech conversation needs to be ongoing.

Digital civility starts offline

The majority of parents (93%) believe they discuss responsible online behavior with their teen, while a new report was just released contradicts this. Sixty percent of teens say they rarely or never have had discussions with their parents about online behavior.

” Parents who aren’t having conversations with their kids about appropriate online behavior shared assumptions that their kids already know what they’re doing or don’t need such conversations for a multitude of reasons (limited access to internet, no concerns being voiced, etc.). “ – Survey

For most of us adults, we know never to assume, especially when it pertains to our children. The survey continues:

At the same time, parents are convinced their kids would turn to them for help if something bad, like online bullying, happens. Teens, on the other hand, are more likely to report their online bullying concerns to the platform or speak to another adult. ” -Survey


Digital Civility Survey revealed that although most parents (91%) believe their kids are likely to come to them if they are being bullied or harassed online, the report said that teens are more teens are more likely to report such issues to the platform where they occurred (53%) or tell another adult (33%) than talk to their parents (26%). When asked to share advice with their younger peers, teens recommend reporting bad behavior, blocking strangers, or telling someone who can help such.

Tech talk, 5 ways to stay engaged

Did you know that 58% of teens say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate online behavior. So it’s not only about what you say, but it’s what you do that matters.

  1. Shoulder to shoulder. Never miss an opportunity if you are side by side to chat with your teen about their online life, especially if you saw questionable behavior. Usually when you are riding the car or sitting watching a sports game – you tend to be more relaxed. Casually spark a conversation about something you may have seen on their social feed.
  2. Be interested. Does your teen assume you trust them online, or are you engaged with them about digital behavior? Get involved! When you see those headlines of students losing college scholarships or admissions due to inappropriate behavior – talk about it. These are great opportunities to open dialogue.
  3. Cyber-critique, offline. Another way to help your teen to better understand responsible digital citizenship is setting time aside to go online together. Review posts, comments, memes, threads of your friends, family or even acquaintances. Are you noticing someone is constantly oversharing? Maybe your friend made a snarky comment or forwarded a cruel meme. Remind your teen that online translates differently offline – and there is a very fine line between clever and cruel.
  4. Online reputation. It’s everything today! Your digital landscape is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your character. More and more studies reveal that it’s not only about the content you post, but how you treat others online. From college admission offices to potential employers to even love interests – have no doubt, your online behavior will be judged by someone that matters to you. Remind your teen, what goes online today (can and will) come back to haunt them later. There’s no rewind online.
  5. Walk the talk. Have you reviewed the digital you lately? Make it a habit to go through your own social media threads to be sure you haven’t crossed the line of inappropriate behavior. It’s too often the headlines of adults acting badly are popping up on a weekly basis. On the same note, be sure you’re also reaching out to those that need a cyber-hug or smile. Leading by example doesn’t only mean to be sure your being a respectful on your threads – it also means you’re reaching out to people in need. Being an upstander.

Never doubt, you are your child’s greatest influence online and offline.

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Want to have a educational conversation about the do’s and don’ts of online behavior? Pick up my latest book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate from Amazon or your favorite bookstore. There are examples of how real people made cyber-blunders – how to recover and survive online hate and more. This is a book for both parents and teens. Order today.