The present generation is growing up in a digital world. Different forms of media, from TV shows to blogs, inundate your teen. The convenience of smartphones being a fingertip away only compounds this issue.
Social media can affect how teens learn, think, behave, and feel about their self-image. The added online dangers of predators are just the cherries on top of its monolithic digital presence.
You, as a parent, may not need to watch your teen’s social media interactions around the clock, but you should keep a careful eye on how screen time is affecting your teen.
Data published by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) on Nov 15, 2017:
- 71% of teens use several social networking sites
- 41% of teens use Facebook
- 20% of teens use Instagram
- 11% of teens use Snapchat
- 6% of teens use Twitter
Let’s reiterate that. 71% of teens use, not one, but several social networking sites. That’s a staggering number of young adults spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen.
Many social media sites have age restrictions. Many of them even have an 18 or over policy. However, the restrictions have slowly shifted to being as young as 13 and up. This adds a whole new list of fears and issues for you because your teen can access all sorts of content that used to be for adults only.
Having a computer screen by their side 24/7 can be massively physically damaging for your teen, both physically and mentally.
Exposure to blue light prevents and disrupts sleep and hinders school work.
Teenagers who have their smartphones next to them while trying to rest are easily able to reach and see what their friends are doing, instead of resting. Studies indicate that just the idea of having access to the fount of information and connectivity that is social media causes restlessness in your teens.
Keep in mind that teens with smartphones tend to go to bed later than their counterparts.
Excessive social media use correlates with depression. Instagram is a spring of heavily-edited images curated to inspire insecurity in your teen. Many blogging sites stream horrible news from all around the world all day, every day. Your teen has access to all of these things, and it can plague their mind at times.
This depression gets exacerbated by the aforementioned lack of sleep and cyberbullying.
Bullies can harass, threaten, and embarrass your teen with the push of a button. Cyberbullying can cause:
- Anger issues
- Low self-esteem
- Skipping school
- Poor social skills
- Suicidal ideation
To hurt you, bullies used to have to see you. Now, they can endlessly harass you.
Another reason to monitor your teens’ social media is predators looking to contact and exploit children of all ages. This could happen anywhere since social media is public and attracts stalkers who could potentially harm and sexually abuse children. As a parent, it’s important to do background checks on suspicious people within your vicinity just to be sure your teen is safe. You may visit lookupinmate.org to do background checks.
Another scenario is using apps like TikTok and Snapchat. Teens make innocent videos without realizing the amount of danger they could be in from their viewers.
Your teen doesn’t necessarily know the identities of the people they are chatting with.
Despite everything, this is not a cause for mass alarm! This is just a time for parents to watch what is happening in their children’s lives.
One way to protect your teen is to ensure that you have an account on any app that your teen may use. Your teen may moan and groan about you being on the same social sites that they are.
Stay firm and reassure them that in no way are you snooping or spying on their fun, but you decided to join the app as a precaution. Letting your teen know what you are doing prevents them from feeling violated or smothered.
The most uncomplicated app to start with is Facebook. Make an account and start creating friend circles. This will help you learn the app and give you a parental support group, and your teen will see that you are not on there to be their babysitter (even if you do sneak a peek at their friend list now and again). It’s all a part of being watchful.
Some parents limit screen time to only several periods throughout the day. Many parents don’t allow kids under a certain age to access specific sites.
Some parents ensure their teens charge their phones on the kitchen table at night. This reduces the amount of blue light their teen is subjected to and minimizes their temptation to be on media sites instead of sleeping.
Some other strategies you may find handy:
- Set days with media-free dinners—no cellphones allowed at the dinner table.
- Choose media-free rooms. If you want, encourage your children to help you pick which rooms should have media access and which ones shouldn’t. This will help your teens feel more in control and thus more comfortable with the rules.
- Turn off the TV when you tell your children it’s time for a media shutdown.
- Set your phone to “do not disturb” during media-free times.
- Common sense media and similar sites can tell you if apps are appropriate for your children to see.
- Talk with your teens about being online safety. Teach them to treat others respectfully and tell them the dangers of cyberbullying and sexting. Help them learn that privacy is paramount and that online solicitations can be more sinister than they may seem.
- Be firm about avoiding content that is not age-appropriate. Content containing sex, drugs, violence, etc. is content your teen might not be ready to handle. Movie and TV ratings exist for a reason. Online movie reviews also can help you determine if something is safe for your teen.
Different parents have different safety guidelines and strategies for what they feel is best for their teenagers. Some sites that are
Social media is not meant to be scary or harmful. What scares parents the most about their children’s interactions on social media is what they do not understand about it. By learning about social media and its benefits and dangers alike, you can conquer that fear and better safeguard and advise your children.
Teenagers are growing up in the social media age, so fully restricting what they can do on social media can have negative results. You need to take action and educate yourself and your children. Limitation is indeed beneficial, but social media is a core part of the modern world. It’s important to balance limitations through arming your teen with knowledge so they can protect themselves from unpleasant circumstances.