How to Keep Your Teens Safe on Social Media: 5 Simple Rules to Follow

words Alexa Wang

Keep kids safe social

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From taking and uploading the perfect selfie to speaking with friends, teens will use social media for a wide variety of reasons. But no matter how hard you try to fight it, the internet will remain a prominent force in your children’s lives, so it’s essential to teach them how to use it.

Consult a Lawyer if Social Media Has Caused Harm

Social media can allow teens to create online identities, build valuable social support networks, and turn a negative experience into a positive one. However, social media can also negatively affect a teen’s sleep schedule, distract them, and promote insecurity, bullying, or bad ideas.

Social media companies have a responsibility to the public, so if your teen has experienced harm while using the platform, you may be able to receive compensation. Contact a lawyer who represents social media harm victims, such as Dolman Law Group, to start building your case.

How to Teach Your Teens About Social Media Safety

Teenagers aren’t children; they’re mini-adults who have their own thoughts and opinions. If you want them to stay safe on social media, you need to be respectful, understanding, and kind.

1. Explain Why You’re Setting Social Media Boundaries

Social media plays a very important role in your teen’s social life, so they’ll get frustrated when you start setting boundaries. Teens can easily bypass parental controls, and they know how to delete their browsing history, but your teen will follow your advice if you explain why they should.

For example, your teen may not post inappropriate images or messages if they’re aware of the social consequences of the behavior, such as the inability to find a job or make new friends.

2. Talk About the Mental Health Effects of Social Media

Teenagers are mental health savvy, so they’re likely comfortable discussing social media under this lens. For example, doomscrolling, a term that describes the act of scrolling through bad news on social media, is common in teens and causes symptoms of depression and anxiety.

However, most teens aren’t aware that they’re partaking in destructive social media behaviors. That’s why it’s essential to bring them up in a safe, comfortable environment when you can.

3. Discuss What to do if They’re Being Cyberbullied

According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of US teens have been cyberbullied. Most teens feel that parents are doing a good job at addressing online harassment, but they’re critical of social media companies. For this reason, all parents should discuss bullying with their teen.

First, tell your teen it’s safe to come to you if they’re bullied. Let them know that you’ll contact the school anonymously, as taking the complaint public, unfortunately, makes bullying worse.

4. Go Over the Basics, But Don’t Insult Their Intelligence

Let’s get one thing clear: unless you’re a computer programmer or you regularly keep up with online trends, your teen knows way more about social media than you do. Your teens know, or feel like they know, how to stay safe on social media, so try not to patronize or insult them.

Instead, go over the basics (i.e., don’t put your address on the internet) from a caring place. Say that you just want to make sure that they’re aware of the dangers and how to stay safe.

5. Teach Them About Family Picture/Video Protocols

Before becoming an internet celebrity was a thing, people used to film or take pictures in front of their house, beside a window, or in their neighborhood. Even when their house number was nowhere to be seen, fans were still able to find their home based on other context clues.

Your teens are going to take videos or photos with their friends, so explain what they can post on their social media and why. Ask them to remove anything that could reveal their location.

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