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Your-Kids-Online: To monitor or not

An advice from hi-tech parents in a modren family who believe in building good and healthy relationship with their children, whether the issue is about social network or text-messages.

Scenario: You are invited by a colleague or a friend to be on FaceBook. You hear that everyone is on it, so you decide to join, too. You soon finish putting in your info and are then directed to a page called url(.../yourname). The thought of having achieved your goal -of finally looking a little more "Internet savvy" via this advanced technology- is both satisfying and intriguing. There is still a lot you can do on this wonderful Website, however, and you can't wait. At some point, you notice on your home page a message from FaceBook, suggesting that you may know "these" people. You take a quick glance at the names and thumbnail photos, when one very familiar name, accompanied by a photo -one you don't remember ever having seen- catches your attention.

It is your ..... (fill in the blank with the correct age) year-old child.

Your initial reaction might be: "Cool, I didn't know our son is already on FaceBook. Maybe he can teach me a few things!"

Or: "What!!! She's on FaceBook! She's only ....(the age, obviously that of a minor). I don't recall her asking for MY permission to put herself on a social network!!!"

Whatever your reaction, have a nice talk with your child -offline, one-on-one and face-to-face. Try to refrain from adding him as an online friend before this talk, no matter whether you're fine with his decision, feel he should have asked your permission, or even if you do not approve at all of his online presence. Just remember to talk to him, but not "at" him.

After all, it is important to have a good relationship with your children, and this requires between you the establishment of trust and understanding. When such situations arise, whether they be phone texting or joining FaceBook (or any number of other things), you can then discuss them and come up with an agreement about how to do so healthily.

But first, calm down and take a sip of your favorite tea. You need to gather your thoughts -all the facts, pros and cons and, most importantly, what you want to achieve from the talk you are about to have. Make sure your goal is realistic.

Lay out all the facts and ask your child for her input, but do not get emotional, and do not employ guilt. Only when she sees that you are reasonable will she be willing to talk to you. This method works better than a charm in almost every situation. It's the new age now: our hi-tech environment makes it difficult just to yell, "Because I say so," or "Because I am your parent and you must do what I want." Plus, you didn't like it when your parents said such things to you, so don't do it to your kids.

Even if you feel that a hormonal change -either from your soon-to-be teenager child, or from you as you arrive at the next stage of your life- is affecting the relationship between you, do not feel discouraged. You can always be a good parent and provide good guidance to your child. Even if previous encounters have resulted in your children having a not-so-great impression of you, keep at it with sincerity and kindness. They will come around.

Let your children into your world if you want to be in theirs. Soon, you will operate on trust and understanding, to the point that in ensuring their safety you can just "loosely" keep an eye on their activities, secure in the knowledge that they will tell you if and when something goes wrong.

Here's to happy and healthy social networking.

Here's how we handle our situation in the "Family Room" discussion.

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About us

We are an American father who has lived many years in Thailand, a Thai mother who has lived many years in the United States, and four children- the eldest born in America- who spent the first parts of their lives in Thailand and then moved to the USA. This multiculturalism provides a unique perspective and affords each of us the opportunity to approach things from new directions.

We follow our hearts wherever they take us. We also believe in sharing. If another is enriched then so, too, are we, for the betterment of one is the betterment of us all. We share our ideas, thoughts, knowledge and opinions with the hope that others will find value in them, as well as in the hope that they will pay it forward to make the world a continually better place.

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