Educate Your Teens to Use Social Media Smartly
It wouldn’t be surprising to know that almost every teenager owns a smartphone these days. Having a smartphone means they will be also present on social media. In fact, most teens are present on every social media app nowadays, be it Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc. But do they know how to use social media smartly? Let’s find out.
Several studies have shown that teens spend most of their time on these social media apps. Instead of being occupied in other extracurricular activities, they prefer spending time on social media platforms. Undoubtedly, social media has proven to be an excellent platform for teens, offering them numerous benefits.
But, on the other hand, the same platform can also be harmful to them. Kids and teens can come across plenty of challenges and risks in the form of cyberbullying, predating, sexting, pornography, etc. These social media dangers should be avoided at all costs.
But how can teens avoid the issues they might face on social media? How can they handle them on their own? Teens are prone to committing mistakes when they are using social media. Because they are naïve and still learning new things about social media, they can make mistakes while spending time there.
They may not always make smart choices when they post something to a social media app and this can lead to many severe problems. However, if they are educated about social media prior to using those apps, they can make better decisions and avoid many social media problems.
Therefore, it is important that parents become aware of social media before allowing their teens to use it. Once they fully understand how social media apps work, they can teach all the good and bad things about them to their kids. This is how they can make their kids learn how to use social media safely, responsibly, and smartly.
Before we can help you understand how to educate your teens to use social media smartly, you need to go through the merits and demerits of using social media.
Merits of Using Social Media
Social media offers several benefits to teens. Below, we have highlighted a few merits of using social media:
- Teens can stay connected with their friends, family members, and relatives with social media apps.
- They can volunteer and participate in a campaign, charity, or non-profit organization through social media.
- They can enhance their talent and creative skills by sharing write-ups, art, ideas, and music.
- They can meet and communicate with people who share similar interests
- They can interact with their classmates and educators
Demerits of Using Social Media
The downside of social media is that it can be a platform for unwanted threats and dangers such as cyberbullying, predating, and pornography. Kids and teens tend to share every detail about their personal lives more than they are supposed to. This is where everything goes wrong. The more information they share about themselves on social media, the more they can be targeted by evil-minded people.
Many teens post personal photos of themselves and use real names on their social media profiles. They also go on to reveal their birthdates and share their interests with others. Sometimes, they also update information about themselves such as the name of the school they go to and the town or city where they live.
With so much information about teens available on social media, it becomes easier for bullies and predators to reach out to them and find ways to cause them harm. Many teens have reported being contacted by users on social media who they don’t know. Those strangers have made them feel uncomfortable and even scared by sending inappropriate messages. Teens also complain about receiving threats and hurtful messages from bullies on social media.
How Can Parents Help Teens?
Like every other thing, social media has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main takeaway here is that teens should be able to tackle the problems they face online and know how to smartly use social media apps.
Parents can play an integral role to ensure their teens are using social media apps and other online platforms responsibly and wisely. They should be aware of what their kids are doing online. Monitoring their online activities without them knowing may offend them and even damage the trust that you’ve built together.
The key is to keep an eye on your teen’s social media activities without making them feel offended and uncomfortable and ensuring them that you’re only trying to keep them safe online while respecting their privacy.
Here are a few things that parents can teach their teens to use social media smartly:
Be Polite to Others Online
Teach your teens to be nice and polite to others online. Mean behaviour would not be tolerated at any cost. Make your teens understand that they need to treat other kids with respect and never send them mean or threatening messages. Also, ask them to always inform you if or when they receive any harmful or harassing messages from others on social media.
Think Hard Before Sharing Something Online
Educate your teens to always think hard before posting anything on social media. Teens should know that what they post on their social media profiles may be used against them one day. For instance, if your teen lets everyone know that they have gone on a family vacation or they share their home address, any burglar would get a chance to visit their place and rob them of precious items. Therefore, teens should always think twice before posting anything on social media. They should also refrain from sharing their contact number as well as uploading check-ins to places or spots they visit.
Let Teens Follow the “WWGS” Rule
Make your teens use the “WWGS (What Would Grandma Say)” rule. While following this rule, teens would refrain from sharing things on social media that they wouldn’t want their school teachers, college admission staff, future employers, and even grandma to see.
Enable Privacy Settings
Privacy settings on social media play an important role in ensuring your teen’s online safety. You need to check and enable privacy settings on your teen’s social media profile. Make sure your teen also understands how these settings work. You can also explain to your teens the importance of choosing a password that is hard to guess. Also, they should never share their passwords with anyone, not even their best friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
Never Add/Follow Strangers
Stranger danger is real. Teach your teens to stay away from strangers and never add or follow them on social media. It’s simple: if they don’t them, they should never add or follow them on any social media app.
Social media effects on teens can be devastating. The only way to protect your teens from them is to teach them about social media dangers and help them identify them. Once teens identify these dangers, they can tackle them on their own. If a situation escalates, they can always seek help from their parents.
Many parents have also resorted to monitoring apps like Mobistealth to track their kids’ activities on social media. With a monitoring app, they can monitor what their kids are doing on social media and prevent them from potential dangers out there.
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