Hire a Pal: 5 Reasons to Consider a Virtual Sitter or Mentor for Your Teen

Statistics show that the hours right after school are the times when teens get into the most trouble. Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice reports that teens commit serious crimes mostly between the unsupervised hours of 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

No responsible parent would leave a small child home alone. However, once kids reach the age of 12, daycare no longer accepts them. Many parents have no choice but to leave their teen home alone and without access to support during the day or evening. In-home care is expensive, teens don’t want to be babysat, and outside activities aren’t always practical.
Here are five reasons why you should consider a virtual babysitter to supervise and support your teen when you are unavailable.

1. Safety first. Teens are not at risk in the same way small children are for getting hurt. The threat of harm for teens presents itself in a more insidious way. Bullies, poor eating habits, loneliness and boredom are just a few of the very real threats that face teens today. Having a qualified and credible adult to check in with them, reach out to and interact with can make all the difference for a teen that is struggling with a variety of issues.

2. Freedom is not always a gift. Going from daycare to being completely on one’s own is a huge leap and many teens struggle with having too much freedom and independence too quickly. Structure and direction help teens focus and be involved in productive activities. Sometimes too many choices can create confusion and increase the chances of succumbing to peer pressure.

3. Opportunity to learn and grow. Staying home alone for hours may not endanger every teen, however they will often find themselves glued to the TV or the latest social networking website. Teens will spend time online. So create an environment where it is safe, and they can be involved in enrichment and educational activities. The Internet has so many wonderful activities available. Take advantage of that by providing a responsible pal to direct them and make it safe and fun to be online.

4. Connect with your teen. You are away all day at work, however with the proper guidance and tools you can learn more about what your teen is up to than you could if you were in the same house with them. Resources for monitoring their online activities along with the feedback from your virtual sitter or mentor can help nurture your connection and give you powerful information about your teen. With limited time together due to busy schedules, the more you know about your teen, the stronger your relationship will be. As they grow, your knowledge about their lives will not be limited to just the time you spend with them, as it was when they were younger. A virtual sitter or mentor will provide information you need to continue to build your relationship.

5. Time for Fun. When our kids were young we went to great lengths to provide play dates and activities. Why stop just because they are teens? Setting them up with a pal who can involve them in safe and fun games online, watch a movie or listen to music can become a positive part of their day that will motivate them. Having something to look forward to is essential to a sense of well-being. A meaningful connection to a safe and caring adult who takes a sincere interest in our teens is a highly effective way to nurture self-esteem and enthusiasm. So schedule time for your teen to continue to play in a supported and safe way and enjoy coming home to happy kids!

Anne Leedom is the founder of Teenpalz.com, a national website providing virtual sitters and mentors for teens. TeenPalz.com offers Palz an opportunity to teach, enrich and interact with teens in the absence of a parent. For information, resources or to sign up as a Pal visit www.teenpalz.com. Be a Pal - Hire A Pal!

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