Drawing the friendship-line between teens and adults

In our informal, tech-savvy culture, experts are noticing a change in how teens are interacting with adults in charge, like teachers or bosses. Technology is changing the rules of etiquette so rapidly that most people do not know what is right, wrong, too professional or too friendly anymore. Teens are now communicating with adults in charge through the same medium as they do their friends, resulting in a somewhat confusing balance of power.

When adults open themselves in a personal way to younger counterparts, the lines are easily blurred. Though teachers, coaches, or bosses may act friendly, when the adult thinks the child has crossed the line, the can use authority to penalize them. Keep a look out for red flags and be sure your child is complying within the boundaries:

• When communicating with adults, do not use alias' that can be misconstrued or later used against you in case the situation or relationship were to suddenly change.
• Although we live in a tech-savvy culture, warn your teen of the dangers of using cell phones or the computer too much to communicate. On a professional level when seeking an internship, job, or even recommendation, it easily reads as immature or in some cases over-eager and can give the wrong impression.
• Don't ask to "friend" adults or text or IM them until a clear-cut cue is given that this is alright.
• Furthermore, if this does occur, make sure your teen's address to the adult in question is professional, only discuss the business at hand, and limit contact to business hours.
• Remind them that these rules go both ways. If an adult ever crosses the line or makes them feel uncomfortable with being too open, they should not be embarrassed to speak up and set boundaries.

Related: From kissing to "sexting," today's hook-up culture is changing how teens think about relationships.

Although it is often necessary to draw a line between professional and personal relationship, feeling comfortable with adults can be beneficial. Forging a relationship with an adult your child respects can be helpful-so long as the adult is acting as a mentor and not a pal. It's important to consider that the better a teacher understands their interests, strengths, and personality, the stronger the recommendation or advice will be.

Read more about the confusing relationships that can form between teens and adults.


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