This is a technique that is part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It's something that takes practice, but can help people of all ages manage mental health symptoms and difficulties with problems such as depression, anxiety and self-harm.
Lately one of the most asked questions I get is "how do I keep my teenager safe while they are on the Internet?" There are some many different devices, apps, websites, texting, etc. that it is hard to keep up with everything. Where do we even start to manage it? I've come up with 5 B's to easily manage internet safety in your home.
Become knowledgeable about the apps your child is using. Are there security measures in place on the app itself? Who are they talking to? What kind of information is shared? Is this information really secure? At the bottom of the page there are some links providing information about privacy and dangerous apps that most teenagers use on a regular basis. Some apps don't even have any privacy settings and information can be shared with anyone in the world. There are even some apps that can hide apps they might be using from parents.
After becoming educated, it is your job as parents to ask questions and to be as involved as possible with your youth. This can only be done if you obtain all of the passwords and regularly check social media accounts and/or text messages. Most parents wonder, isn’t this invading their privacy? Well, yes, but your job as a parent is safety first. It may be an incredibly uncomfortable discussion and create an unwanted battle but it is within your right as a parent to make these necessary changes for safety. It's better to have a teenager because we're invading their privacy then have something else happen.
It is also recommended that parents ask who each and every one of their child’s ‘friends’ are that follow them and interact with them regularly on social media. Anyone who is not a reasonable ‘friend’ can be deleted and removed for added safety. I’m finding a lot of teenagers friend strangers just because they are “hot” and/or live in the same area as them. We don't know these people, and who knows, they may be perfectly nice and appropriate, but sometimes it's better to not take that chance.
Now how do we monitor all of these devices? It is so easy with phones that have internets and lap tops for a teenager to just spend all their time locked up in their rooms. It is ok for your children to own all these devices, but it is also ok to place restrictions on them. For example, lap tops must be used in an open and well-used area. Most teenagers are not going to do something unsafe or inappropriate if they are being watched.
It is also important to put a time limit on these devices so they are not spending all of their free time locked to a screen or staying up late into the night. Content blockers and internet safety devices also exist for added measure if your teenager cannot be supervised at all times.
Lastly, educate your children about the kind of material they are posting and where this information goes. Most teenagers do not actually know their material is public to the world. Teach them how to privatize their social media pages. Teach about what material is appropriate or inappropriate and how to attract a more positive audience and avoid things such as cyber bullying due to post content.
These are all very personal rules and restrictions. This information should be talked over as a family and agreed upon first so parents are on the same page together. Not all of these rules might be needed or appropriate for your family, but these are just some of the things that come up most in my family sessions working at the hospital. Just know that you are the parent, you are in control and safety always comes first.
Five Ways Parents Can Fight Facebook Depression
Internet Safety Tips - National Child Advocacy Center
Internet Safety Statistics - Enough is Enough
Social Media App Information - Family Education
9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids - Crosswalk
My first ever video blog! Learn about how to spend quality time with children to decrease things such as problem behaviors and other mental health symptoms.
Today is the last day of Child Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental health awareness is important because stigmas still exist about mental health, especially regarding children. A lot of children and adults never receive the care they need. Here are 7 myths about child mental health taken from Child Mind Institute author Harold Koplewicz, MD.
1. A child with a psychiatric disorder is damaged for life.
This is absolutely not true. If anything they become better because as a parent or guardian, you have recognized something that they can get treatment for. The goal of treatment is learn to cope effectively so they can handle mental health symptoms as they appear.
2. Psychiatric problems result from personal weakness.
Some mental illness is genetic and some mental illness occurs as a result of difficult situations experienced. Sometimes mental health symptoms appear as weaknesses such as aggressiveness, self-harm, etc when in fact it is what it is - mental illness. Telling children or teenagers to "just stop" or "behave" is not help at all. There needs to be a more personalized treatment in place.
3. Psychiatric disorders result from bad parenting.
Occasionally a child's environment can influence a mental illness but it does not necessarily mean it caused it directly. As mentioned above, there is that element of biology and genetics also involved in the development of a mental illness. Don't blame yourself, instead take the opportunity to be directly involved in treatment and begin to be a part of the solution and change.
4. A child can manage a psychiatric disorder through willpower.
The management of a mental illness or psychiatric disorder is about teaching skills in therapy. Willpower is not one of those skills. If it was that easy, mental illness would not exist. A physical illness requires medication and appropriate care. Mental illness is the exact same way.
5. Therapy for kids is a waste of time.
The most important aspect of therapy is in the relationship between the clinician and the patient. The next most important part is in the technique. Therapy is most often personalized to the client after the therapist decides an an appropriate approach. If you feel like something is not working for you or your children, let the clinician know and they can make a referral to someone else. Therapists want their patients to succeed, not feel that it is a waste of time. Therapy will not be a waste of time if it helps effectively manage mental health symptoms.
6. Children are overmedicated.
Currently I still work in an acute care setting as well as manage an outpatient practice. I can personally attest to the fact that the physicians at the hospital do not use medication first. Medication is another resource and avenue to explore after parents have come in and feel that they have explored other opportunities first. We generally recommend outpatient therapy and learning appropriate skills before turning to medication. Medication is appropriate at times but does not have to be the first option.
7. Children grow out of mental health problems.
The original article said this well, "Children are less likely to grow out of psychiatric disorder than they are to grow into more debilitating conditions." Most people unfortunately do not "grow out" of mental health problems. Some may, but most times mental illness is something that ebbs and flows. It would be more unfortunate for a child to never obtain treatment and learn skills to manage their illness and have worse problems later in life.
Click here for original article.