We live in a modern culture that is saturated with social media. Every day, millions upon millions of people are uploading photos and posts to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Why? Because media gives us a chance to be noticed and “liked” by others. As such a result, these online platforms can become extremely addictive, particularly for those of a younger generation.

Unfortunately, children and teenagers can easily become susceptible to the many dangers posed by social media usage, particularly if they are not appropriately educated on the risks. When parenting teens, it is essential that you become aware of the issues surrounding social media policy and internet safety for kids.

8 Tips for Parenting Teens in the Age of Social Media

So, to help you out, we’ve put together a compact list of eight key tips you can highlight when parenting teens and discussing social media usage with your children.

Here they are:

1. Once something is uploaded to a social media site, it is completely out of your child’s control. Even if they decide to delete it later, the image or post can easily be captured and saved by others. As such, you must stress the privacy issues related to social media, and ensure that your kids are well aware that these online platforms are truly “public” in nature.

2. Irresponsible posting can break trust and respect between friends or loved ones. For example, your child might be experiencing some typical teenage problems – but if they post about it publicly on Facebook, it may be disrespectful to you as their parent.

3. In a similar vein, it is never wise to post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents to be comfortable viewing. Image-sharing apps are good fun if used properly, but they can also be extremely dangerous if you share inappropriate photos.

4. If you are frustrated and tempted to post something that you might later want to take down, don’t post it! There is no harm in keeping thoughts to yourself, but once it “gets out” on social media, you have reached the point of no return. People will see it and the information will spread, no matter what you do.

5. If you are having a private conversation with a friend or family member, or have taken a photo with them, never share it on social media without the person’s permission. When it comes to social media for kids, sharing pictures of each other together may feel like second nature. However, you must remember to ask permission first and be sure to always keep the thoughts and feelings of other people off your public profile or page.

6. Very few things on social media are totally private. Often times, your photos can not only be seen by friends but by friends of friends and even further beyond that. There are many strangers who may be able to access your pictures and personal updates. In addition, future employers may also have access to your social media profiles, so be careful not to publish anything you wouldn’t want your future boss to see!

7. Never share personal information. All contact and address information should be strictly off limits. You never know who might attain that highly confidential information, so make sure that you do not jeopardize your personal safety by being too relaxed about your personal details.

8. Never, ever converse with strangers when on social media. Private messaging is a good way to engage with your friends and family, but you must beware of strangers who may have harmful intent.

Unfortunately, predators have figured out that social media is an effective way to make contact with young people and therefore incidents of grooming and abuse often stem from messaging apps and social media platforms. Protect yourself by keeping your profile private and never accepting any friend requests from people you don’t know.

The best way to ensure your child’s safety on social media is to keep good lines of communication open at all times. As best as you possibly can, create a home environment where your child feels comfortable sharing their feelings with you. If they are concerned by someone on social media or are unsure whether or not to post something, you want them to feel at ease discussing that with you.

Christian Counseling for Parenting Teens

If you are struggling to communicate effectively with your child in this area, you might want to consider seeing a Christian counselor. A professionally trained Christian counselor will be able to help you and your child improve your mutual level of trust and will assist you in developing constructive two-way communication. It is only out of this good relationship that productive discussion on these important teenage issues can occur.

Photos:
“Social Media”, Courtesy of Marjan Grabowski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Broken,” courtesy of Matt Gruber, CreationSwap.com, CC0 License; “Facebook”, Courtesy of FirmBee, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Student”, Courtesy of Brad Flickinger, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License;