A few weeks ago I watched a one-hour special presentation on CNN about teens and social media. #Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens was a great report on what a typical student in the US faces in the current digital world in regards to social media. During their study they analyzed more than 200 social media feeds from 8th graders over a 6-month period and found the following results:
- 36% of teens said they use social media as a way to see if their friends are doing things without them.
- 15% of teens in this study reported receiving inappropriate photos through social media
- 61% of teens said they get on their social media accounts multiple times a day for the sole purpose of seeing if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
- 94% of the students feel that parents underestimate the amount of fighting happening over social media
In light of this study and the multiple conversations I have had with parents about social media, I wanted to encourage you with a few things in regards to navigating the digital world with teenagers. Social media is a significant topic to address with your teen. Too many parents today underestimate the vast scope and impact social media can have on the life of a teenager. Peer pressure, bullying, and sexual temptations are very prevalent issues in their physical world and the same can be said when it comes to their digital world. These issues transcend the physical boundaries and are only as distant as the pocket in which a student’s smartphone sits.
1. Talk to your students or children
More than anything, start talking to your student about social media. Talk to them about what they are using it for, what their experience has been like, and what you can do to help them with any issues they may be facing through social media. Never forget or underestimate the impact you have in the life of your student and the choices they make.
2. Put Safeguards in Place
To help safeguard your teen from some of the inappropriate content that can appear on smartphones, privacy and restriction settings can all be adjusted on smartphone devices. There are also many third-party programs and products available for families who want to increase their protection against inappropriate activity. I suggest you take a little bit of time and research for yourself what you feel would be most beneficial and cost effective for your family.
3. Download Apps
Many adults feel like it is a very difficult thing to parent their child through the topic of social media because it is something that they aren’t very well versed in themselves. I suggest that parents who feel this way still have to start somewhere. Start by doing some research online about current apps and sites that are being made so easily accessible to teenagers. Create your own accounts on some of the social media platforms that your student uses in order to get a better feel and understanding for what they are all about.
The following are a few resources that would be great for you to check out:
Internet Browser Accountability Software
Covenant Eyes – a software system that allows you to block sites & increases parental control across all devices.
Net Nanny – a great internet accountability software system that increases parental control for computers, tablets, and cell phones.
Smartphone monitoring service
TeenSafe – a monitoring service that allows parents to monitor their child’s iPhone or Android smartphone as well as view activity on certain popular social networking apps. TeenSafe isn’t an increase of parental controls as much as it is an increase of information and awareness.
Mobicip – parental control that blocks sites based on content type. It also has powerful reporting capabilities to alert parents and accountability partners of what sites an individual has visited.
Free Parenting Media Resource
There are a lot of great resources are available, but prayer an a ongoing conversation can be some of the most powerful things you can do to provide a more safe and secure experience in the digital age we live in. One great article I have found on the subject of social media is by Common Sense Media that I recommend taking the time to read.