10 Social Media Strategies Parents of Teens Should Exercise

Follow these Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe

Take a proactive approach to keeping your teen safe on social media.
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The vast majority of teens use social networking sites to communicate with their friends - as well as strangers - on a daily basis. Although social media can offer educational opportunities, it can also be very dangerous. Cyberbullies, sexual predators, catfish, and scammers prey on unsuspecting teenagers every day. 

To keep your teen safe, exercise these 10 social media strategies: 

1. Educate Yourself About Social Media

Develop a clear understanding of what your teen is doing on social media.

Educate yourself about various social media sites and know which sites your teen frequents. Learn about the risks each site poses so you can have meaningful conversations with your teen.

2. View Your Teen’s Privacy Settings

Each social media site has different rules about privacy settings. View your teen’s privacy settings and discuss the possible implications of making information public. Be aware that some social media sites, such as Tumblr, make it difficult for teens to keep their information private.

3. Provide Education on How to Respond to Inappropriate Behavior

Unfortunately, it’s common for teens to be approached by adults online. Sometimes, they are shown pornographic material or asked to engage in sexual conversation. Discuss how you expect your teen to respond when issues arise.

Explain the importance of talking about it so that you can work together to find ways to prevent it from happening again.

Also, discuss how your child can respond to other issues, such as cyberbullying, or scams.

4. Talk About What’s Appropriate to Share

Engage in frequent conversations about what is appropriate to share on social media and what isn’t. Sometimes teens need reminders about the things they should never share on social media.

Make it clear that there can be serious ramifications for bullying, making threats, or engaging in sexualized behavior via social media.

5. Establish Clear Rules About Respecting Everyone’s Privacy

Make it clear that your teen shouldn’t be airing your family’s private affairs over Facebook. Don’t allow your teen to post embarrassing photos or information about anyone else. Establish a rule that says no photographs or information about others can be posted with permission. Otherwise, siblings may use social media as a weapon against one another, or parents may be embarrassed to discover their personal information is now public.

6. Keep Tabs on Your Teen’s Social Media Use

Sometimes parents struggle over whether or not they should have all of their teen’s social media passwords. Parents should take this on a case-by-case basis. It may be appropriate to do so when teens engage in unsafe behavior or when teens aren’t yet mature enough to handle privacy on social media.

Even if you don’t have your teen’s passwords, take steps to keep an eye on what your teen is doing on social media. At the very least, view your teen’s public social media pages to see what it is being publicized to the world.

7. Warn Your Teen About Scams

Teens need to know about potential ways they could be taken advantage of on social media. Explain how some people are tricked into giving out their personal information and how others are scammed into giving away money.

Also discuss how people online are not always who they claim to be. Talk to your teen about news stories that show how people got themselves into trouble due to various online scams and continue to make it a frequent topic of conversation.

8. Discuss How Social Media can Impact Their Future

It’s important for teens to realize that colleges and future employers are going to be looking at their social media activity.

Explain how inappropriate comments and photos can come back to haunt them years later. Make it clear that once something is shared on the internet, it will remain in cyberspace and people may be able to access it forever.

9. Encourage Teens to Think Before They Share

Teens are impulsive by nature and posting a hasty social media message can lead to trouble. Encourage your teen to always think about what they’re posting and to prevent themselves from impulsively reacting to others. Help your teen develop a plan that will prevent her from doing and saying things she may later regret.

10. Set Time Limits on Social Media Use

It can be easy to lose track of time on the internet, especially when using social media. Take steps to proactively limit your teen's screen time. Most pediatricians recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day.

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