Understanding your Gen Z teen

Is your child constantly busy on their phone? Here’s how to help them use technology safely: 

  1. ‘Talk to your teenager and work out how much sleep they need, how many hours they need for homework, exercise and family activities, and the best time for family meals,’ says Cape Town educational psychologist Simona Maraschin. ‘Screen time should fit in around those activities, not replace them.’
  2. Ask questions about the games on their phones – or play with them. ‘You’ll be spending quality time plus the game might spark interesting discussions,’ says Durban clinical psychologist Dr Sherona Rawat.
  3. Downloading apps or software to block sites and installing geotrackers so you know their every digital move may not be the answer. ‘Explain to your teenager why you’re concerned for their safety,’ says Simona. ‘Develop a trusting relationship so they’ll tell you when things make them uncomfortable or if they’re being bullied. Sneaking tracking systems onto their phones says you don’t trust them or respect their privacy.’
  4. Decide on screen-free zones in the house, such as the living area. And  lead by example by sticking to the rules too!
  5.  Talk to your teen often about appropriate behaviours in the online world. For example, teach them to consider what they’re posting. If it’s something they wouldn’t say to someone’s face, they shouldn’t post it online.
  6.  The internet might teach your teen how to fix his bicycle, but it won’t teach him how to become an ethical, well-rounded adult. That’s your job.
  7. This is the first generation of kids that don’t need you to get information, says Tim Elmore in Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens & Young Adults in the Digital Age. ‘What they need you to do is interpret the information and put it in context. We need to  guide them on how they use information.’
  8. Make sure they know they must never include private information (phone number and address or school) in chatrooms.


Read more: Social media: How to protect your child

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