Relationships between teens are like riding a roller coaster. Teen couples experience an array of emotions that lead to flirting, holding hands, arguing, fighting, breaking up and making up. Now introduce cyberspace to the relationship, where teens frequently publicize every aspect of these relationships warts and all, and the emotions can be amplified. The histories of these relationships become cemented on social networks forever and contribute to a person’s Digital Footprint.
Learning how to establish, maintain, and negotiate appropriate relationships is important for children to develop healthy relationships. When faced with a bumpy road in a relationship, children will mimic their caregivers and role models. Caregivers should discuss relationship issues with teens very early. Common Sense Media provides some keys for helping children to develop healthy relationships both on and offline.
- Keep communication open and honest.
- Remind them that you are always available to talk, as are school staff or a friend’s parent/caregiver.
- Talk about what’s private. Teens may differ with their parents in what they view as private and what’s okay to share. But remind them that intimate posts or messages can be copied and shared with thousands of people in an instant.
- Don’t dismiss digital talk. Don’t underestimate the power of texts, IMs, and other digital media to strengthen existing relationships. Teen relationships often move fluidly from online to off.