Start early and stay involved.
Like many parenting skills, monitoring your children's online activities is easiest when you establish policies and expectations early. Although the tendency is for parents to become less involved as their children age, even older teens need their parents' help to stay alcohol-free.
Developing a strong relationship with your child is important. Research shows that family conflict and a weak parent/child bond increases a child's risk of drinking underage. Bonding can be as simple as going out and having fun together, talking about school, and making time each day to listen to your child's concerns. Studies show that even making the effort to eat dinner as a family five times a week reduces the chance that a child will use alcohol or drugs by as much as 33 percent.
Parental disapproval is the number one reason why teens say they don't drink. When parents set clear rules about not using alcohol, kids usually follow them. It's important, however, that your kids know why you don't want them to drink. Explain how underage alcohol use can change how their adolescent brains develop---impairing memory and learning capabilities while increasing their risk of addiction. Also, make sure to establish consequences for breaking the rules, and consistently enforce them.
Having friends who drink is the single greatest risk factor for underage alcohol use. As a parent, it's imperative that you know whom your child is with, where they are, and what they're doing. Make it a habit to ask questions as your child leaves the house. Get to know his or her friends, and ensure that alcohol isn't available to them at your house or their friends' homes. Checking in with your child can be as easy as sending a text message, and if alcohol shows up at a party or event, being ready to pick your child up. Don't forget to monitor your child's online activities, too. Today, teens spend more time interacting with each other on social media sites like Facebook than they do talking on the telephone.
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