How to Help Your Teen Navigate Social Media

Written By Aida Crooms
Category: Social Media

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Today seemed like an ordinary day, until your teen turned your world upside down. 

You went online to find out your teenager just broadcasted to ALL 1,500 of their "personal" Facebook friends that your family is out of town for a week and your home is a target for a break-in. 

You think: "What else are they sharing when I'm not looking?"

Teens Should Think Twice Before Sharing

Over sharing is a REAL issue and some tweens and teens just don't get it. 

Whether it's the live video of them - or you - losing your temper on the phone, telling everyone about that new gadget they just bought, sharing a story about the "funny" argument a family member just had with a boss, co-worker, spouse, or best friend, or the unfair punishment that you just instituted, ugh! Not to mention, my personal favorite, when they broadcast from every location they visit including their school, home, restaurants, stores, etc. 

I think you get the picture. 

Perhaps you are worried about those status updates that are either totally out of pocket, or the ones would make a prospective employer or college admission officer click the "no-way" button before they even hit the front door. 

These are some of the most common challenges that you as a parent have to deal with when your teenager loves social media just a little too much for their own safety and your sanity.

Perhaps you are worried about those status updates that would make a prospective employer or college admission officer click the 'no-way' button before they even hit the front door.

7 Tips to Help Your Teen Use Social Media

As a concerned parent, how do you fight back so your teen or tween understands that there are real issues on social media that they need to think about and consider? See a few of our tips below.

  1. Talk about challenges often & speak their language. 
    You don't want to nag them, but you do want them to understand that they need to consider how people will look at what they post and THINK they know who they are. Sharing examples of people who they respect who are making "social media" mistakes can help.

    You can ask them how they feel about the things that are shared and how other people might feel if they saw or read them. It may take a while, but it can give them some perspective.
  2. Change their settings.
    Unless your child is a social media star, think about setting their accounts to private, that way they have more control about who can see their posts and who has access to them. For Facebook, turn location tracking off, make sure that 'only friends' can see what they post and not 'friends of friends', and discourage them from using services like check-in, Foursquare, and Swarm that tell people exactly where they are.
  3. Send them to the authorities.
    Police forces across the country have units that focus on cyber crimes. They focus on sexual offenders, bullying, sexting, and anything that happens online where people break the law. They are incredible sources of information for you and your child. They also may be able to share things with your teens that you have been saying for months, even years and be able to get through to them.

    The things they see are real and scary, unsuspecting teens who got pulled into criminal cases just by sharing a picture, or pedophiles who have plotted on smart, poor unsuspecting teens who share too much or who are too eager to find a listening ear.
  4. Help them think about the danger they put themselves in by oversharing.
    Your teen might not realize how dangerous oversharing is, so tell them! And if they don't listen, connect real consequences to their oversharing actions and make sure you enforce them. If they overshare things like the location they are visiting or who they are with, set boundaries. If they don't follow the rules, take their gadgets away or restrict their access.
  5. Connect them with digital mentors who are willing to share their stories.
    This won't work for everyone, but when your teen hears someone else's story some of it MAY sink in. It's not hard to find people who thought they knew better, who found out the hard way they were wrong. Look for real life stories from older students, siblings or peers and share them. Then, have a real conversation with your teen.
  6. Be patient and repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Your teen is going to make mistakes and some of them may even be online. Don't get discouraged, expect it. Set a good example by setting a standard of privacy yourself. When they make mistakes don't ignore them, talk about them and try not to yell - you want to keep the lines of communication open.
  7. Pay attention.
    Don't wait for them to tell you everything. Make sure you have access to ALL of their profiles and pay attention. When you see something that concerns you, talk about it. Face the issues head-on and do it often. You don't want to be a pest, but you do want to be a parent. Make sure they know you will be checking up on what they're doing online because you care.

Social media is here to stay and challenges are going to stay along with it. The most important thing you can do is to keep the lines of communication open and let them know that they can come to you. This is so important. Stay informed, involved and talk to your friends and other parents to find out how they handle this with their kids. 

Don't worry, you've got this.

To learn more about social media apps, search our App Advisor.


About Aida Crooms

Aida Crooms is an influential lifestyle blogger and social media guru. Aida writes from her heart and is the mother to a teenager.

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