During these days of consistent technological advancement, the opportunities in which we have to communicate with our teens seems to grow exponentially at a rapid pace. However, just because we might have access to technological resources to communicate with our teens in a variety of ways, does that mean we (as mentors) should use every available outlet? Should we open up every piece of technological communication information to the teens we mentor? The hard-and-fast answer is: Absolutely NOT!
Many reasons exist for not sharing every piece of your technological contact information with the teens you mentor. First, your teens do not NEED every piece of your contact information. If you are worried about one of your kid’s safety to the point that you want him/her to be able to get ahold of you immediately, buy them an inexpensive, pre-paid cell phone and program it so that it can only call your emergency contact number. You also have to discuss and agree upon with your kiddo what constitutes an emergency and what does not…
That covers how your kids can communicate with you ONLY in an emergency, but more often, they will just need to be able to reach you on a daily basis. This is where communications can become tricky. You NEVER want to place yourself in a situation where anyone can accuse you of inappropriate behavior or words. THAT IS A BOTTOM LINE! The solution to that is that you always stick to lines of communication that are public—lines of communication that can be traced, detected and printed. If anyone ever asked me if they could search my communications with my kids, my answer will always be, “Go for it! Knock yourselves out!” That’s because, not only have all my communications with my kids been totally innocent, but I have also made sure to conduct them on one of two platforms: my professional email or on Facebook. Either one of these can be accessed at any time, and if ever I were accused of anything that was inappropriate, I would welcome the proper authorities to gain access to my professional email and/or my Facebook page. It is a matter of me protecting myself as opposed to protecting my kids; I know my kids do not need ‘protection’ from me.
Ultimately, the smartest choice you can make is to limit your communications with your kids to one email address and to Facebook, both of which can be accessed by officials. Share your professional email address and your Facebook Page with the parents of your kids. Parents can have access to you, although your kids’ privacy can still be maintained. It seems that this is the best blending of the myriad of technological communication opportunities while limiting them regarding your kids for the safety of both you and them.