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Social media can be a tricky minefield to traverse at the best of times. But when you’re trying to keep your child safe, the challenge can be heightened. In these modern times, teens are using social platforms more than ever. Reports suggest as many as 75% of 13-to-17-year-olds have at least one profile, with 51% of them using these daily.
And while there’s a lot to be said for giving them an avenue to talk to friends and stay up to date with the latest news, it’s impossible to look past the potential downsides of these online channels. 38% of teens in a recent survey said they felt down as a result of news they saw on social media, while another 31% cited feeling excluded by their friends.
As a parent, it’s our job to ensure we’re doing what we can to keep our children safe when they surf the net. That extends to the time they spend using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or any other form of social platform.
In this short guide, we’re going to discuss four ways in which you can protect your teen while they use social media.
1. Establish clear boundaries.
While it’s fun, and normal, for kids to explore and learn more about what social channels have to offer, it’s vital to set up clear distinctions between what is or isn’t okay to share on the net. Think about creating a list of things that are or aren’t allowed.
As a starting point, you could use the following examples:
- Talking to friends, family, and people they know in real life
- Reaching out to an organizational body
- Anonymously joining clubs and groups they feel passionate about
- Talking to strangers
- Sharing personal or contact information publicly
- Sharing personal photos with people
Each situation will have its own intricacies, so be sure to go over what your child does or doesn’t intend to do online, then make a judgement call. This is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your teen on social media.
2. Look for the signs.
If your teen has suddenly started acting differently, it could be that they’ve been exposed to negative behaviors online. Signs that this might have happened include being quiet, reticent, spending a lot of time inside, and even going on their computer more than they might have before.
And it’s not just the influence of other social media users that you might want to watch for. Excess screen time itself can also have a negative impact on your teen’s health. Some tell-tale signs that they’re being overexposed to digital screens include things like:
- They find it hard to concentrate if something isn’t presented to them on a screen
- They neglect to go outside or engage in real-world activities
- They react poorly when separated from technology
If you spot either set of signs, it might be time to sit down with them and discuss your options.
3. Make sure to stay up-to-date on the potential threats.
Part of your job as a responsible parent is to educate yourself on what the current red flags are online. While you can assume that talking to strangers is always something to steer clear of, there might be more specific circumstances which sweep across a social platform, depending on external events.
Common examples of this include fake donation scams, where con artists will use real-world crises to convince unsuspecting victims to part with cash. These schemes are obvious to anyone who’s been around the block on social media, but might be harder to spot for teens who are new to life online.
4. Be open and honest with communication.
Make it a point early on to encourage your child to talk to you about their social habits. While it might be awkward at times, having this open channel of communication will make it considerably easier for them to come to you and discuss anything that’s troubling them.
You can make this an ad hoc session which takes place at any point, or schedule a specific time of the week or month to discuss anything they’ve seen online. Make sure to pose it as something where you’re trying to help, rather than them needing to report their activity back to you.
Do you feel better equipped to keep your child safe online? Make sure to follow these helpful tips in order to reduce the chances of them falling victim to unwanted attention or threats.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
We understand that as a parent, you want to protect your teen on social media. We also understand that with today’s technology and culture, that’s not an easy task.
If your child has suffered a mental health issue such as depression, suicidal ideation, or an eating disorder as a result of social media, you may be able to file a claim. Our caring and compassionate attorneys are ready to help you every step of the way. We care, and we can help.