In the world that we live in, social media has taken over the lives of our teens. 95% of teenagers have access to a smartphone and 45% of those say that they are online ‘almost constantly.’ How can we protect them from what may be harmful to their growing and changing minds and emotions? I have 3 important things for us parents to consider concerning our teens. Hopefully, these things will not only inform you but give you ideas on how to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about social media with your teen.
Creating a set of rules is key to introducing your child to the world of social media. It is important to establish an understanding of the difference between the real world and the digital world. This may also be a good time to talk about etiquette and rules for both settings. Having rules for the amount of time spent on social media is also important. It has been recently discovered that an excess of screen time has been linked to poorer connectivity in the brain in areas that focus on language and cognitive control. In order to cultivate the progression of humanity, it is important to do small things like setting boundaries, or -at least- suggesting boundaries in regards to screen time.
Have a talk with your teen. Ask them why they are interested in social media, what they believe they will benefit from being a part of it. It is important to know the motives of your children in regards to social media. It was recently reported that many teens that had a conversation with their parents about internet presence, social media and its pros and cons have resulted in less “risky” online behaviors. It amazing what a heartfelt talk around the dinner table could do for the online safety of your teen. After the understanding of social media is established it is always important to continually have casual conversations with your teen, as many of theme tend to take their woes to social media, most times, on a private account where parents have no access to it. Chatting with your adolescent about what may be going on in their lives may lessen the probability of them lashing out online.
Think before you take the device away
In the world that we live in, there is always a way to social media. Some schools even have devices that they give to their students that help with school work. These things can even be hacked into and can be used for social purposes. At times it is best to create a method of punishment for inexcusable behavior, but consider the repercussions of removing their devices. This could lead to a breach of trust which can result in a lashing out online with you as the topic of discussion. It is best to consider alternative options that could be just as impactful as removing their devices from them.
Trust and give practical privacy
It is important to remember that at the end of the day, your teenager is creeping closer and closer to adulthood and does need their respective amount of privacy. A great way to create trust in the relationship between you and your teen is to set rules, communicate your concerns, wishes, and thoughts with your teen and let the rest go. Try to avoid asking what they are doing online; instead, find ways to reinforce your concerns about their online presence. If there is a family computer, have it out in the open, but focus on giving them privacy when they are using it. This allows you to build trust with your teen while simultaneously keeping on eye out for risky or suspicious online activity.