Teens and social media - those words scare me. Why? Because I am now a parent to a teen and as someone who spends A LOT of time on social media, I know what type of trouble they can get themselves into online.
Teens and Social Media
While we did let our daughter tip-toe into social media as a tween, her exposure was limited. Teens and social media is an on-going conversation we are going to have here on Digital Mom Blog. Why? Because we are hearing more and more from parents of teenagers about their kids social media usage and we feel it's an important topic to address.
We want this to be a guide for parents to reference in regards to teens and social media. Let's be real. Social media was NOT a thing when we were teens. THANK GOD. CAN YOU IMAGINE? I don't even want to know the trouble I would have gotten myself into. I was an early internet adopter and online as a teen, but thankfully there was NO social media or camera phone!
Like all things we write here on Digital Mom Blog, this is meant to be a guide that you customize for yourself. When I started writing a parenting blog many years ago, I never wanted to readers to feel like my answers were the absolute answers. I want to provide suggestions and real-life guidance on parenting subjects so that parents know how other parents handle situations. I know that each of my kids are individuals and each requires separate discipline and guidance, so take what is said here and make it your own. Tailor to fit each of your kids. And most important, we want to hear your feedback. More on that, let's talk teens and social media.
From One Parent of a Teen to Another
This is from me to you. Some of these things may feel stupid and some you just may not even want to talk about with your teenager. But let's be real. If we don't talk to our kids about sex, our kids learn on their own.
Rule for Teens Posting on Social Media
I read some great advice from teen YouTube sensations Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight's father, Shaun McKnight. He said that the twins have a "three Ps" rule whenever they're considering what's appropriate to vlog. "If you wouldn't say it in front of your parents, pastor and principal, then don't put it out there," he said. I love this rule and can be applicable to any of the social networks! (source: Cnet)
We often emphasize to our kids that whatever they post online stays online. Teach your kids about their digital footprint - what it is and how it can follow them for MANY years to come.
A great example to share with your kids is the recent news about how Harvard rescinded admission to 10 students because of offensive Facebook memes. (Read more about this here on Forbes.) Just because you think the conversation or what you are posting is private, it really isn't. Time and time again, examples of such play out. From hiring to college to in general real life reputation, knowing about your digital footprint and what to post and what not to post is a lifeskill kids NEEDS to know.
Talking to Teens About Social Media
If we don't talk to our kids about social media, they WILL learn on their own. Even if your teen doesn't have a phone, they will have access to social media. This is one of those on-going conversations that you need to have with your kid. This isn't a talk once, and done. As social media changes, and your teenager experiments - you must be on top of what is going on in their lives.
Clear Expectations and Understanding
I have always told my kids, whatever they do one their phones, tablets and computers - I have access to. I like setting clear expectations and understanding that they cannot hide things from us. We pay the bills and more so, our job is to be their parent. Being a parent means guiding them on the rights and wrongs in life before they enter the real world.
Setting Boundaries with Teens and Social Media
It is important to set boundaries for your teens and social media.
For example, an online boundary that we have setup for our kids is that there is no screens in the bedroom. This puts a clear boundary that smart phones and computers, are not in their bedroom. There is no reason for our kids to need their phones in their room.
Another post to read is setting boundaries with kids online.
Sexting pics is not something I care to talk to my teen about, but you know what it's a discussion you must have. As teenagers start experimenting with all things sex, they need to know the consequences for doing stupid things like sexting pics. Make sure you read our post on teen sexting facts. It really bothers me on how clueless teens are when it comes to sexting.
What Apps Are Teens Using?
Check out our post about trending teen apps and learn what teens are using and how.
If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat, familiarize yourself with this app. We have a complete guide to using this app. Read: What is Snapchat?
We don't want our teen daughter on Snapchat. I know, it's one of the most popular apps for teens, but guess what - nope. I don't care if you want to see Kylie Jenner snapchat, it ain't happening.
Snapchat porn is huge and unnecessary. Online porn access with social media could be an entire post. I'm not going into a lot of detail on that in this post, but just know this is just another reason we are avoiding this teen app. (Actually, it's not just for teens. Adult usage is huge! I used it for a while, but after a while I stopped using it. I'm an Instagram user for life.
How many teens are using Snapchat? Despite being an eighth the size of Facebook, Snapchat has almost as many teens as Facebook.
Instagram offers most of the options of Snapchat now and while yes, there are disappearing photos and what not - we are constantly monitoring her account. This article on a Teen committing suicide because of Snap Chat - this is one of many instances that I've read about and nope - we just aren't going there with our teen.
What really is disturbing is there are sites dedicated to finding teens on Snapchat. While sure, a teen maybe searching to find other teens on Snapchat. There are also a plethora of pedophiles, sexual predators, weirdos - or whatever you want to call them - that do the same.
Social Media Bullying
There is a reason online bullying, specifically social media bullying is getting so much attention online. IRL bullying is bad enough, but bullying online - specifically on social media with apps is easy, feels anonymous and is just awful. From comments or reposting inappropriate photos to social media, social media bullying is not one single thing.
This is another subject you need to talk to your kids about. Not only do you need to talk about helping them understand that people are online say things they most likely would never say in person. You need to help them understand that what THEY say online needs to be appropriate.
Make sure your kids know what to do in the event they are bullied online. The school our teen attends has made it a point to stay on top of this subject.
It Takes a Village to Manage Teens and Social Media
This isn't an easy task to do. This will be an online going discussion here as we tackle teens and social media. It does take a village. I have a few family friends and family members following my teenager on social media. I regularly receive comments about some of the sweet things she posts online (she is a total motivator!) Then again, I have received a few comments saying "you may want to look at your daughter's latest posts."
Embrace both the good and bad, and use that to help in talking to your teen.
Continuing the Discussion
As mentioned, this will be an on-going discussion here on Digital Mom Blog. We feel that we need to keep this discussion relevant and up-to-date as everyday social media grows and changes. And everyday, more and more teens are involved in social media.
What topics in regards to teens and social media do you want to know more about? What advice do you have to parents in regards to their teens online? Let us know! Your input is valued! Leave a comment below.
As more subjects come up, we will be discussing those topics here - so stay tuned.