Your Kids

Navigating the Teen Years

Learning about your teen’s world is a process, and the more time you give to understanding it, the better you’ll be able to communicate with your child.

Try our suggestions from the list below.

  • Take the time to listen to the popular music your teen is listening to on the radio, the internet or on sites like iTunes.  Listen for references to alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviours. Then talk with your teen about what you’ve heard.
  • Visit popular social networking sites that teens use like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and browse them to see what other teens say, what their interests are, and what they are doing online.
  • Can you name your teen’s favorite TV show? Watch it with him or her and discuss story lines.
  • Go to YouTube and type in “smoking weed.” Watch some of the videos. Did you know that your teen may be exposed to these images?
  • Find out what the drug slang terms “blazed,” “xanibars,” “a blunt” and “robotripping” really mean.
  • Type the name of your teen’s high school into the search bar of a popular teen social networking site and see what's happening.

Experience Teen Culture

Have you forgotten what it’s like to be a teen? Feel a little overwhelmed with today’s teen culture, including what’s happening on the Web? Want to know more about the influences and pressures your teen faces?

Dive into his or her world!

Here are a series of fun, easy action items you can do to get a little more in tune with teen culture. Think of them as “expeditions” into teen life. Do as many or as few as you'd like, but try at least one.

  • Attend a sporting, art, or other event at your child’s school. Notice how your child interacts with his friends and pay close attention to how other teens his or her age act: what they talk about, what they wear, and how they behave in general.
  • Rent some of the most popular movies among teens (go to: to get a list) and watch them with or without your teen. Count the references to drugs or alcohol, violence and other risky behaviors. Take note of the kinds of peer pressure teens might be facing and talk about these observations with your teen.
  • Go to and find out what a social “bookmarking” site is. Visit to see how teens are discovering and sharing content – from news to videos – on the web. See if these kinds of sites have been “tagged” on your computer. Check to see if you have a or Digg button on your computer usually found in the top right hand corner of your Web browser and check to see what other icons your teen may have on the computer that you’re not familiar with.
  • Flip through a popular teen magazine, such as CosmoGirl or Seventeen or Skateboarding or Thrasher. What types of references do you notice about body image and sex. How do they deal with issues of drugs and alcohol use? Do you think your teen is pressured by these kinds of popular references?
  • Check out what’s hot on the Internet by going to or . Ask your teen what they know about some of the most popular searches.
  • Ask your teen to show you the photos he/she has taken with his/her cell phone or view the music and videos he/she has downloaded onto their iPod (or similar device). Discuss the content. Is there anything you are surprised by and should talk about?

All done? Are you feeling more tuned in to teen culture? We hope so!

We now encourage you to do one more thing - share what you have learned with other parents whenever possible. Not only do you have an opportunity to share your own findings, but you can learn from other parents about what insights they have gained by doing the action items.

Ready for the talk?  Check out these pages to find out more about communicating with your teen!

The Importance of Communication 

How to talk to your kids about drugs if you've done drugs

Having the drug conversation with your teen (with suggested conversations!)

Getting past the fear

Having the drug conversation with the whole family

Helping a kid who is not your own