Good Digital Parenting
Blog | May 10, 2016

How to Handle Distracted Driving With Teens

Intern, FOSI

A few weeks ago, a news story about a teen girl that was in a car accident due to using Snapchat while driving made headlines. She was snapping her drive and using the apps miles per hour filter to show her followers how fast she was driving.  Personally, I have viewed multiple stories and have received snaps from people I know that they took and sent while they were driving. 

As I read the article, I wondered  why so many people like the young teenaged girl involved in the accident, would risk their lives all for a Snapchat filter and for her followers entertainment. No Snapchat, text, call, alert, video or post is worth risking your or anyone else’s life. 

 It is extremely important for parents to have the discussion with their teens about safe driving, especially  with all the distractions that are made readily available via their smartphone.  While explaining the dangers of using cell phones while driving is a necessary conversation between parents and teens, it's also important for parents not to panic and jump to the conclusion that their teen is distracted while driving and take their phones away. Instead, they need to focus on having ongoing conversations with their teens about this temptation while driving. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Periscope are great apps that are fun, entertaining, a way to connect with people, a news platform and a way for them to express themselves in a positive light. I think the message or goal here is for teens to understand that there is a time and a place for everything and driving is not that time. 

What can parents do to avoid distractions while driving 

1.Be a Role Model for your Teen- As parents, it's important to set the example of what it means to be a good driver while using your smart phone. Do not tell your teen about the dangers of being on your phone while driving and then turn around and send a text while you are behind the wheel. 

2. Talk with your Teens  Often- Talk with them about the risk and dangers of using their smartphones or other forms of technology while driving. Also discuss with your teen what to do when distractions are inevitable. FOSI has developed three moments that are essential times to talk to your kids about tech. Use these moments to talk about bad habits such as texting and driving and continue to have regular conversations. 

3. And lastly, Try an app that may help you monitor your teen and avoid distractions while driving. Here are some examples of those apps:

In addition AT&T has their "It Can Wait" program. They have a variety of resources and tools for parents to use to help generate discussion about distracted driving. 

Photo courtesy of Flickr.