Top Social Media Safety Tips for Teens

Top Social Media Safety Tips for Teens

Let’s face it… we’re parents and we worry about everything, especially when it comes to our teens and social media safety.  There are so many reasons why social media can be extremely dangerous with all of the horror stories of kids being lured, abducted, sexually assaulted, and bullied.

I know your teenager doesn’t want to be told what to do and what not to do, but by offering these guidelines you can set safe parameters for them to explore the entire world of social media without being bullied, ripped off, scammed, or disrespected while they’re just trying to have a good time online.

It is possible for your teen to have a safe, positive experience within the social media world, if the proper boundaries are in place.

First Steps:

  • Make sure your teen’s social media pages are set to private, not public. 
  • Turn off geo-tagging, so they cannot be located from their social media posts.
  • Do not let your teen “friend” people they do not directly know. Teens should NEVER make plans to meet someone they met on social media.
  • Report inappropriate content (bullying, hate speech, obscenity) to the social media platform AND be sure to block the poster.

Social Media Safety tips to talk about with your kids:

  1. How often do they check their settings on all social media pages?

Encourage your child to regularly review the app or social networking privacy settings. Many social networks are set to public by default, meaning anyone can see your child’s posts, pics, and videos.  We would recommend using a ‘friends-only’ setting. Keep your teen accountable, and ask them to participate in their own safety settings on a weekly basis. They will feel like you are entrusting them with the responsibility to take care of themselves, while giving them a task that keeps them safe.

  1. How many social networks are you currently using?

Just like their bedrooms, it is important that children give their social media presence a spring clean every so often.  Remind your child to deactivate any old social media profiles/accounts they may have signed up to. This can help minimize the risk of getting hacked.

  1. Is it possible to copy a photo, video, or snap without the other person knowing?

Explain to your child that anything that appears on a screen can be copied and shared regardless of the privacy features of the services they are using.  Nearly all mobile phones can save what is displayed on screen by pressing a couple of buttons. It is just as easy to capture what is displayed by taking a photo of the screen using a camera or camera phone.  Make sure they understand that once their content is posted online, there is the risk of that photo or video being seen by others forever, so make sure they think twice.

  1. What type of information/photos are okay to share online?

It’s a good idea to give some guidelines about what to avoid discussing or sharing online.  Some children may not understand how quickly content can be shared online, it may be helpful to explain that even by deleting a post/photo it may still be too late, and the content may already have been shared.

  1. Are they accepting friend requests or follows from strangers?

Make sure they understand, that they should only accept friend requests or follows from people that they know.  Tell them that they should not be chatting or messaging with any people online that are not personal friends, because these conversations can lead to dangerous encounters that they will wish they had never started.  Explain that what might seem innocent at first, can have major repercussions later that can’t be undone.

Try to be as open as possible with your teens about these topics, and include them in monitoring their own safety so they will feel that you are entrusting them with newfound responsibility because they are getting older.  

This will make these conversations a lot easier, and ultimately bring you closer to your teen, empowering them to feel like they can talk to you about anything.

Here some links if you would like additional information on social media safety:

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19 Ways to Prepare For The Dreaded Teen Years

19 Ways to Prepare For The Dreaded Teen Years

Picture this…your daughter has made it to her senior year in high school, she’s confident in herself, is a straight A student, top of her class, successfully juggles work, sports and school, everyone loves her, she has a good attitude, is ambitious, well rounded, and responsible.  It’s basically everything you could ever hope for your daughter to become.

So why do we cringe then when people ask us, “so are you ready for the teenage years?”  Why do most of us dread these years? Well we can’t help to feel that way when we hear stories like “my daughter committed suicide, my son is getting into fights at school, they are being bullied, my daughter is pregnant, my kids rebel at us every chance they get, getting into trouble with the law, and of course, my kids have major attitude.

BUT…..What if there was a magic pill that we could give to our kids that will guarantee they turn out like the perfect angel we envision them to grow up to be?  Hah! Fat chance right?

The truth is that we can’t guarantee our kid’s teen years will be smooth sailing. Obviously we all know that much.  As parents, we have the best of intentions for our kids. So if there is no magic pill, what would be the next best thing? A friend recommended, “Taking off to Hawaii for a few years to meditate and find enlightenment while the husband stays back and holds up the fort”.  Sigh…if only that was reality.

In all seriousness, I do believe we as parents, can make or break these teenage years.

As a parent who has yet to go through this phase myself, there is tremendous value in learning from parents who have survived the much dreaded teenage years.

So I hope to share some advice that I have collected and some “things I would have done differently” from other parents that you and I may be able glean from to help us to best prepare ourselves and our kids through their adolescent life as best as possible.  The more we know, the better we can prepare.

  1. Always listen listen listen.  Have a lot of discussions and talk with them about everything.  Praise them when they share with you “So glad you were able to tell me that” So the communication ways stay open.  You want them to come to you when they face a tough choice. Also have many talks about sex. Made huge difference in late teen sand early 20’s.
  2. Set clear expectations and boundaries so that you can give them their independence and room to make mistakes and learn and grow from it
  3. Teach money and responsibilities at an earlier age
  4. Be more open minded
  5. Encourage them to make their own decisions so they would become independent & self determined individuals
  6. Don’t lecture, preach, or nag, but rather listen and guide them.  Respect their thoughts
  7. Earning money to get what they wanted.  Saving more for it makes the appreciate and value life more.  Teach then they can do and become who or whatever they dream, when they get out in the world, but for now do what I say when you’re under my roof
  8. So I can pass on my bullet proof vest, cape, safety goggles and box of tissues and tell all of you to hold on, be consistent, set boundaries, learn to deflect the eye roll, monitor social media and communicate with your child as their parent
  9. Too many outlets these days ie via social media so it allows them to avoid the issue instead of facing it.  Social media makes heightens peer pressure, low self image and self esteem because it’s so easy to see your friends and compare yourself, even though it is all a facade.
  10. Don’t fight with them to get your way.  Work on compromise and problem solving with them.  Let them take the lead on coming up with a game plan because that’s the only one that will work
  11. Don’t give them everything they want, make them earn it themselves
  12. Let them fall down a few more times in life.  I look back and think I didn’t prepare them well enough for disappointment in the real world.
  13. Set expectations but let them create their path (earn money, behavior, respect, set goals etc)
  14. Provide structure and keep them busy in their younger years with activities so they have less opportunity to get themselves into trouble or associate with the wrong friends
  15. Be 100% open and honest
  16. Instruct them that they always have choices, but consider the consequence of each decision
  17. would be more hands on with their goings and not so much freedom.  Talk more
  18. Never be so busy that you don’t have the time
  19. Teach them to be a leader and not a follower.

All of these pointers are so important!  Boy do we have a lot of work to do ahead of us to prepare.  The one thing I have been hearing being repeated multiple times is to do whatever you can to make sure the line of communication is open.  The last thing we want is for our kids to shut down and feel like they can’t come to us to discuss their problems.

If you have read this far, you’re probably thinking, “sure…easier said than done!”  No doubt about it. All we can do is our best and hope for the best. What I do know for sure is that the earlier we can incorporate some of these skills and values into our kids, the easier it will be when our kids become teenagers themselves.

Among all the dreaded stories are the ones that give us new parents the hope that our kids will turn out ok.  That we can trust them to make good and safe choices. Stories that inspires us to strive to experience the same kind of relationships with our kids and stories that we can look forward to for ourselves as well.  So there is light at the end of the tunnel when you hear comments like these:

“I have 3 teenage girls 14, 16, 18 and 22 year old son.  I am loving this stage of life more than any other stages so far”

“I’m loving the teen years so far!!!…I have 2 teenage boys, they’re like little men, with their own opinions and jokes!  Fun time for sports”

“It has its definite stresses but I love it!  The conversations are awesome”

“It is so fun to watch them grow into the adults they will be, and the conversations we have now I wouldn’t trade for anything”

So let’s get out there and raise our kids to grow up into strong, independent, and successful men and women of the future. Let’s not dread the teen years but instead, look forward to them and make them be the best years we possibly can.

graduation

Image by greymatters via Pixabay

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