Social Media and Teens

socialmediateensEarlier this year, we discussed online safety for younger kids. Now, I’d like to talk about technology and teens. Yes, this means social media and teens. It can be a scary topic for many parents.

Do we say “no” to social media for our teens?

Do we put firm limits on their time online so that they can only use the computer when we can watch them?

These are valid questions and ones that draw heated conversations among parents. There is the question of what age do we begin to release control and guide our kids teaching them to self-monitor. When should it be more conversation and less rules and filters?

First ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Does my teen seem to understand what he/she should and should not do/share online?
  2. Is he/she showing the post with respect for self and others?

Here are a few social media guidelines for teens:

  1. Your digital footprint does matter! Keep it clean so that, years from now, you don’t have to worry about things that you’ve posted.
  2. Limit your profile search-ability.
  3. Remember that your profile photo can be (and is) a first impression.
  4. Think before you post.
  5. Your blog or social media pages are your “home.” Remember, YOU maintain the atmosphere of your home.
  6. Tone doesn’t come through in posts.

Don’t assume that your teen understands or knows all of the guidelines above. Instead, talk openly with them about what they should and should not do and share online. And be sure that your teen understands that you want to help keep them safe. That’s the goal. Let them know that they can come to you without fear if they ever feel threatened or stumble across something that makes them uncomfortable online.

Most importantly, if your teen comes to you in an effort to share something upsetting that they’ve seen or done online, stay calm. Don’t react in such a way that they become afraid to share with you. I can’t stress this enough. Teens make mistakes and accidents happen. Teens often don’t share with their parents when something bad happens online because they fear the repercussions. Keep open conversations and assure your teen that they are safe by thanking them for their honestly when they talk to you. Take a moment to evaluate the situation. Then come back with a solution and guidance if needed. In the end, this will help keep open lines of communication your teen. And, that’s the goal!

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