Teacher | Blogger | Mom
95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they’re online “almost constantly.” With YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat being the most popular online social platforms among teens, it’s imperative that they know how to stay safe online. From the value of a crash course in social media risks to setting rules and checking in with your teen, here are just three ways you can empower them to stay safe when using their favorite social media sites.
Having an open conversation
Whether your teen just signed up or has had a profile for a while, it’s important that they know all of the risks and responsibilities that come along with any social media platform. Perhaps one of the biggest risks is the fact that anyone online can easily reach out to your teen, making it easier than ever for sexual predators to contact them — in fact, as many as one in five US teens who regularly use the internet says they have received unwanted sexual solicitation on the web. By sitting down with your teen and sharing the dangers, risks, and statistics, you can ensure that your teen is well educated on the matter.
While your teen probably won’t like the idea of having rules surrounding their internet usage, setting rules can be a valuable tool in protecting them online from strangers. For example, making rules about what they are/aren’t allowed to post and share online is just one way to ensure they aren’t going too far and giving too much information away (such as an address, full name, etc.). Similarly, setting rules as to who they are and aren’t allowed to follow or accept as a follower/friend is another way to reduce the chances that they come into contact with a stranger online.
The power of checking in
While educating your teen and giving them the right tools will aid in making social platforms safer for them to use, checking in regularly is also a powerful way to ensure they’re staying safe. While you can check in periodically online by following or friending your teen, keeping an open line of communication with them will make them feel much more comfortable in coming to you with any problems they may encounter while they’re online. Paying attention to signs that something may be amiss with your teen’s social media usage is also valuable, and can let you know when to intervene, with major signs to look out for being suddenly discussing new friends, being secretive about their online activity, and spending more time online out of nowhere.
If you have a teen who’s active online, the idea of keeping them safe can seem nearly impossible. However, by educating them on the risks, setting rules, and making it a point to check in with them, you can further ensure their safety when they’re using social platforms.
About Jane Sandwood
Jane has been a freelance writer and editor for over 10 years. She has written for both digital and print across a wide variety of fields. Her main interest is exploring how people can improve their health and well-being in their everyday life. And when she isn’t writing, Jane can often be found with her nose in a good book, at the gym or just spending quality time with her family.