It is important for parents to establish an open dialogue about the appropriate and safe use of social media, texting and cell phones. Parents need to be aware of the negatives of social media, including cyberbullying and sexting, which pose a significant threat to teens online. As a parent, you can help your teens be smart about what they put online. Be aware also of the positive side of social media. Many teens say that it helps them feel more confident and is important in their relationships with friends. Additionally, some teens use social media for social good (Wallace, 2013).
Parents have a responsibility to set guidelines for when, where, and how much technology is appropriate for their teens. These can include:
· Writing a contract defining how your teen can use social media. Outline consequences.
· Using parental controls and filters on computers to screen inappropriate content.
· Cautioning teens to not accept friend requests from people they don’t know.
· Knowing your teens’ passwords.
· Limiting computer use to common spaces in the home.
· Keeping the conversation open with your teens.
Social media and technology change rapidly so parents need to be smart. Talk to your teen about their computer and social media habits. Expect and encourage your teen to talk to you when they have a concern. Remind your teen that you love them and you want to understand them. To learn more, go to: safetynet.app.org, stopcyberbullying.org, enough.org, safekids.org, and commonsensemedia.org (Carroll, & Kirkpatrick, 2011).
Carroll, J.A. & Kirkpatrick, R.L. (2011). Impact of social media on adolescent behavioral health. Oakland, CA: California Adolescent Health Collaborative. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from: http://www.phi.org/uploads/application/files/g9g6xbfghdxoe3yytmc1rfvvm8lt1ly9sr3j369pstkojdly15.pdf.
Davidson, L. (2013). Moms, you oughta know: 11 social media apps teens are using now. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from: http://www.today.com/parents/moms-you-oughta-know-11-social-media-apps-teens-are-6C10833314
Felsenthal Stewart, R. (2014). Social Media: What parents must know. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/social-media-and-tweens-teens.
Pew Research Internet Project. (2012). Teens Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/teens-fact-sheet/
Wallace, K. (2013). The upside of selfies: Social media isn’t all bad for kids. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/21/living/social-media-positives-teens-parents/
Geltman, J. (2014). A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens. New York, NY: AMACOM.
Levkoff, L., & Wider, J. (2014). got teens? The Doctor Moms’ Guide to Sexuality, Social Media, and Other Adolescent Realities. Berkeley CA: Seal Press.
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