Many parents are frustrated with the amount of time their teenagers spend on social media. After all, it’s become a favorite form of communication for an entire generation. Social media is even incorporated into school, such as with teachers posting about assignments and after school clubs.
While there’s no good reason to ban social media from the home, parents can help their teenagers set up healthy boundaries for social media use. Learning about how to use social media responsibly and what to do when problems arise is one of the most valuable lessons teens can learn today.
These 8 useful tips for parents will help in both educating and regulating their teenager’s social media use.
Learn About Social Media
Far too many parents are ignorant about exactly what social media platforms are out there, much less which ones their teenagers are frequenting. While it’s important to let teenagers have their space and a bit of privacy, parents should still monitor their online presence. Parents should also require teens to divulge their passwords for each platform they have an account for.
Establish Off-Limit Hours
Teens are usually going to prefer chatting with their friends over engaging in face-to-face dialog, completing chores or doing homework. When parents put restrictions on when and where teens can use electronic devices, it helps teens learn to prioritize. Common off-limit zones include the dinner table, during evening homework hours, when relatives are visiting and at bedtime.
Parents need to educate teens on the importance of maintaining a level of privacy for social media. Examples of privacy violations include sharing passwords with friends, posting personal information like street addresses and stating when the family will be on vacation.
It’s easy to assume that teens will inherently know what kind of behavior is acceptable on social media and what isn’t. However, unless parents are completely clear about their expectations, teens may have to rely on their own instincts, which may not be so clear. Communication between parents and teens should be frequent about what kind of information goes online and what stays private.
Talk About the Permanence of Social Media
Most parents will agree that teens are quite focused on the here and now, and may not have a long term perspective when it comes to the permanence of social media. It’s important that they realize anything that goes up on social media doesn’t really go away. This can have long-term effects on their own lives and the lives of others, whether it’s participating in a cruel joke or applying for a job years from now.
Set Up Safety and Protection Controls
There are plenty of safety and privacy controls within electronic devices and social media platforms. Parents need to learn how to trigger them so they establish privacy for the account and will also limit questionable material. There are also apps that can be set up on phones and computers that will block access to inappropriate sites.
It’s a fact that 87 percent of American teenagers have witnessed cyberbullying, while 24 percent of teens report that they don’t know what to do when they encounter it, according to TeenSafe.com. Parents need to teach teens what cyberbullying looks like and what to do, such as informing parents, taking screen shots of the offending messages, and report it to school authorities, local police and beyond.
Never Stop Talking About Social Media
Just as teenagers grow and change, so will their social media use. Parents should not make the mistake of feeling comfortable after just one talk. Conversations about rules, expectations and privacy should be ongoing as the teen matures, begins new relationships and encounters greater social rules and peer pressure.
With open communication, teenagers are more likely to have healthy and productive online relationships and they’ll be able to reap all the benefits of social media. Parents need to remember that harsh restrictions and endless lectures on social media use are more likely to be ignored by teens.
Instead, parents should teach their teens about how to treat social media as a powerful tool that can provide a lot of benefits when used properly. Of course, parents should be the ones to model appropriate behavior when it comes to teens and social media use.