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Son Used Profanity Online

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: AOL recently informed me that my son is using foul language in online chat rooms. He'd promised not to misbehave online and, because he broke that agreement, I banned him from chatting online indefinitely. Was this the best way to handle the situation?

A: You responded with a logical consequence for your son's violation of AOL's rules of civility for its chat rooms. Ask AOL to provide you with both the name of this chat room and the exact inappropriate language that your son used, perhaps providing you with a transcript of his chat-room exchanges that were deemed inappropriate.

Open up a conversation with him about why he visits chat rooms, what he does while he's there, and why he used foul language. Don't interrogate him. Let him know that you want to understand his behavior and that your respect for him has not diminished because of this error in judgment.

Ask him how long he thinks he should be banned from chat rooms. Also ask him what he thinkgs should happen to his computer privileges if another such incident occurs. I also suggest you keep your computer in a common area so that all family members' computing is easily observable.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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