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Social Media Safety for Teens

In a previous post, Internet Safety for Kids, I shared the dangers lurking in our home's technology and ways to safeguard our kids. While that is a great general start, there are more specific dangers parents need to be on the lookout for. Kids and teens are more tech savvy than ever and now the majority of teenagers are involved in social media. As an adult, I myself can get overwhelmed by my social media, in fact, I take an intentional day off of them all together. How much more overwhelmed can our teens get by social media? Here are some steps parents can take to safeguard their teen's social media lives.

Being a Teen is Hard

All parents know how hard it was to just be a "normal" teenager. We've all been there. But this new generation of teens have something we didn't have growing up, social media. Teens now have to deal with cyber bullying, sexting and all the ramifications that go with it all swirling in their hormone-filled lives.

As a parent, remember the pressure your teen is under. An attitude of understanding will help to bridge the gap between parent and teenager. It's hard to be a teen and even harder to be a parent of a teen, but there are ways to make it easier for everyone.

Role Parents Should Play

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I've ever heard is to give kids freedom within boundaries. This is true for kids as young as toddlers and also applies to teens active in social media. What teens crave most is freedom, and what parents crave most are boundaries. Both can be accomplished if we parents communicate well with our kids and enforce boundaries consistently.

There's is enough teenage drama in the world without tossing in Facebook, Twitter and Vine. Parents, have you heard of Vine? You better keep up if you don't. As tech savvy as teens are, parents need to be as up to date, if not ahead of the curve in order to know how to navigate their teen through a world laced with social media.

Teens don't know how to "turn it off", we adults have enough trouble with it. Teens need their parents {because they will never admit it} to flip the switch for them. Even responsible teens need these lines to be drawn for them, not just for their sanity, but for their safety as well.

Boundaries Parents Should Set

There are three conditions that parents must lay down before allowing their teens to enter the world of social media. In order to be most effective, all three they need to be followed together.

  1. The parent must know the platform {and have their own account} before their teen can have an account.
  2. The parent must follow their teen on that platform.
  3. The parent must know their teen's account password.
If these rules aren't followed together, the parent must must must be disciplined and consistent enough to enforce consequences {i.e. confiscating the device or removing access to screen time}. I know it is easier said than done. Remember "freedom within boundaries"? These are the boundaries. If your teen has already had a "private" account for a while, this road will be long and hard. If your teen is just starting to ask about these things, make sure you establish these boundaries from day one.                                                                                                                                                                                          

Tools Parents Can Use

With the danger of online predators lurking around every corner of the www, it's nice to know that there are smarties who have discovered ways to keep our teens safe when it comes to their social media.

MinorMonitor is a free web-based tool that gives a parent a quick, easy view into their child’s Facebook activities and friends, through knowledge-based analytics. Via an intuitive dashboard view, parents can access either a snapshot, or full detail and specifics, of potential dangerous activities such as bullying, hate crimes, drug use and sexual references.
What does that mean for parents? That means that if a middle aged man "friends" your teenaged daughter, her parents are going to know about it and can take steps to protect their teen from a potentially dangerous situation. MinorMonitor is free to sign up, free to use and should be openly discussed with your teen. This is another boundary parents must set. Here's a look at some of what MinorMonitor provides.
This is not a sponsored post! From one parent to another, I am sharing free tools that parents can use to keep their teens safe in a world that can be very dangerous. This is not to give you a reason to live {or parent} in fear. This is a means to start conversations and train your teens about the dangers of the outside world, and teach them about to think carefully about their impact on the world around them. Teaching them to control their technology is a powerful thing, gift it forward parents.

Do you monitor your teens social media activity? Do you implement other rules when it comes to your teens social media? Share them with us in the comments!
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