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How Happy Are Your Kids?

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Who's in Charge Here? Must-See TV

Seventy percent of tweens and teens have a television in their bedroom. Are you thinking it's okay because everyone's doing it? Don't give in! You won't know if they're studying or watching reruns of back-to-back Laguna Beach episodes. Pull the plug, advises Wiseman. Say, "I made a mistake allowing you to have a TV in your room so I've removed it. I know it seems unfair, but since we have one in the family room, I'm confident you will survive."

Internet Trouble

Ten percent of tweens and 48 percent of teens believe they can easily prevent you from knowing where they go online. "Be strategic," says Wiseman. "Check the navigation bar on the computer to see where they've been." Keep computers where you can casually look over your child's shoulder every hour or so. "I check my son's cookies every few days," says Becky West, 47, the Cleveland, Ohio, mother of Aaron, 17. "If he goes where he shouldn't, I unhook the Internet for two weeks. If it happens again, then the filters go on."

Supervision Slide

More than three-quarters of tweens and teens were online the day before the survey -- 11 percent without their parents knowing. "You don't need to feel guilty," says Steyer. "But the new world of media and technology does mean you have to be a more involved parent in a different way." Get info at commonsense.com.

 
Sneaky E-Mail

A small but substantial number of tweens and teens have an e-mail account that their parents don't know about. "Privacy is important to kids but participating in activities you're not aware of is dangerous," says Dr. Zodkevitch. "The basic rule is, parents need to know everywhere kids go online and who they're e-mailing."

The Blog Space

Tweens and teens who don't have a very good relationship with parents are twice as likely to have their own blog. "If you limit your child's Internet use," says Dr. Zodkevitch, "you'll find time to do something together."

Kid $$$$ Power!

Nearly half of tweens and teens wish their parents earned more money -- and most kids know how they want to spend it. Already they say they have megainfluence over:

  • Restaurant choice: 92 percent
  • Food bought: 89 percent
  • Family vacations: 74 percent
  • Home entertainment equipment: 54 percent

No surprises here. Moms agree that their kids have this kind of pull. In a small number of homes moms say the child actually has total control over some purchases. "It's natural for kids to have buying power in the family," says Wiseman. "But it shouldn't be absolute." You still have the veto. Don't be afraid to use it! (They'll be mad, and they'll get over it.)

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