A recent survey of 1015 teens aged 11-19 showed that 300 of them were sexually harassed through social media within the last six months. What’s even more disturbing, the majority of these children didn’t report the abuse. This means that some of the surveyed teens might not have admitted it, so the actual number is actually bigger. And that’s only sexual harassment, the issue of cyberbullying happening through social media platforms is even more concerning as over 59% of teens have been bullied online at least once.
Therefore, as a parent, you need to protect your children from this threat. Banning them from social media isn’t the solution because this infringes upon their freedom and independence. This will only cause resentment in a teen and they will go behind your back being much more reckless. What you need is to find a balance between the teen’s freedom to use social media and your control of what they put out there and their interactions with other people.
3 Tips on How to Make Your Teens Safe on Social Media
1. Treat your teens like adults when discussing their online privacy
Teenagers will always react poorly if they think they are treated like children, so to get the message across, you need to show that you do see your child as an equal. However, you also need to explain that if they want to have complete privacy on social media, they need to prove that they are ready for this responsibility.
Negotiate the terms of social media use and be sure to provide your reasoning for each one. But be sure to establish goals upon reaching which your teen will get more freedom if they prove they can act responsibly. For example, a rule can be for you to check their messaging until you get to know their friends personally.
2. Educate yourself on parental control for social media
There are many ways to monitor your teen’s social media accounts without having the need to confiscate their phone and browse through them directly. Research these methods so you can keep an eye on your kid without invading their privacy too much. To learn how to keep your teen safe on Instagram, click here. You can find Facebook’s list of safety tools for parents here and there is a similar page for every social media network.
But be advised that some of them are more risky by default. The social media apps to be most wary of are Snapchat, Tinder, Periscope, Blendr, Ask.fm, and Kik Messenger.
3. Limit smartphone use time for the whole family
Another major issue that parents need to address is teens getting too reliant on their phones. This situation can get so bad that this reliance gets classified as an addiction and you’ll need to get your child o therapy to deal with the issue.
One of the best ways to avoid this unfortunate situation is to limit the time one is allowed to use their smartphone and therefore social media apps. To make this into a reasonable rule instead of a sign of controlling parents in the teens’ eyes, everyone in the family should follow this rule.