In our ever-increasingly digital world, parents are becoming more concerned about what their teens are doing online and in cellular apps. Cyberbullying is a real threat as is the incredible depth of knowledge available online that may not be age-appropriate.
So, how do you keep your teen safe online and in the world of social media? Well, to start with, the use of social apps and the amount of access you give your child to the internet is a very personal choice, but here are some tips we recommend if you’re looking for assistance:
- We encourage you to set up guidelines prior to the use of apps. For instance, if they are allowed to have an account on a certain social app, it comes with the stipulation that that account is set to private and they only “friend” people they know. You can also make it a stipulation ahead of time that you’re allowed to ask to open the app and look through their profile, posts, and more periodically.
- Check the app’s age restrictions. Many social media apps are for teens 13 years or older; others 17 and older. If you find your child using one of these apps and you disapprove, notify the app or web master to cancel their account.
- If you’d like more supervision you can use a social media monitoring service such as UKnowKids, SocialShield, or MyMobileWatchDog to help monitor your child’s online activity.
- Make sure you set up parental controls. Phones come with parental controls that help restrict access to websites and apps, and can restrict the installation of apps and in-app purchases.
- Have honest conversations about privacy. Be clear that you respect their concerns for privacy and explain your desire for safety. Your teen is growing in independence and striking a balance between safe online activities and freedom can be hard to do, but the most important thing is to keep the line of communication open. Let your teen know you trust them, love them, and want the best for them.
- Discuss the consequences of posting online. Anything on the internet can be shared at any time. Would they want their grandmother reading what they are putting out there? Do they understand that potential colleges and employers look at social media? Help them understand that nothing is ever truly “deleted”.
Educating children about responsible online conduct is a step-by-step journey that requires supervision, communication, and guidance. This task can be demanding due to the rapid evolution of apps, and teenagers swiftly adapting to new technologies. It’s important to remain patient with both yourself and your child, and remember that this is an on-going process!
For questions or any other concerns, Augusta Pediatrics can be reached at (706) 868-0389. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.