It is no secret that teenagers are increasingly using the internet to find information and to stay connected with friends. In fact, 59% of American teenagers regularly use social media sites to connect with their friends.
This presents parents with the challenge of how to supervise their children’s social media use while still having open communication with them. The truth is, many parents don’t know how to have this open and honest communication with their kids anymore. They aren’t sure if the internet is a safe place for their children, and they are afraid of what their kids might stumble upon if they aren’t careful enough.
Here are some ways that you can help your teenager learn to be accountable for their actions online while still having open and honest communication with them:
Set Up Regular Parent-teacher Meetings
It is key for parents to have open and honest communication with their children, especially when it comes to issues like social media. This means that instead of having one-off conversations about what they might have found on the internet that was inappropriate, teens and parents can have a regular conversation about the dangers and pitfalls of social media. This can also include setting guidelines and rules for acceptable and inappropriate use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
By having these conversations on a regular basis, teens begin to see their parents as an ally in the fight against online dangers rather than an adversary. This helps build a strong relationship between the two parties and encourages open and honest communication.
Be Careful What Apps You Download For Your Kids
Just like with the regular use of social media, it is important to be mindful of what apps your children might be using. Even if you think that your kids are old enough to use these apps responsibly, you might be surprised by what you discover when you inspect their phone. Apps like Instagram and TikTok boast millions of users who are between the ages of 8 and 18, and it would be unwise to think that these apps are safe for your children. These apps are frequently used by young people to share inappropriate content, and since these are the main draw for many kids, this can lead to problems.
If you download these apps to your child’s phone, you are handing them a device that they can access at any time and that has the potential to be a gateway to online danger. It might not seem obvious, but Instagram and TikTok are two of the most popular apps among kids, especially those between the ages of 8 and 14. This means that the younger your children are, the more sensitive you need to be to this issue. You might want to consider removing these apps from your kids’ phones or at least putting them on a restrictive access mode so that they cannot get access to content unsuitable for their age. You can also set up restrictions on the kind of content that your children view, so that nothing too inappropriate shows up on their radar. This will help establish an online safety net for your children while still having them accessible when you need to talk to them.
Monitor Your Children’s Internet Activity
It is important to be aware of what your children are doing online, whether it’s good or bad. This is particularly important when it comes to social media. Since most parents don’t monitor their children’s internet activity, it can be easy for them to slip through undetected when they post something inappropriate. However, you can put a stop to this behavior by regularly checking your children’s social media accounts to make sure that they are behaving themselves.
If you discover that your child has posted something inappropriate, you can have the conversation to address the issue. However, it is also important to do this in a non-judgmental manner. Instead of simply warning your child or cutting off their access to social media, you can show them that you are disappointed in their behavior but that you still love them.
Establish Clear Ground Rules For Online Conduct
It is important that your children know what behaviors are acceptable and what are not when it comes to the internet. For instance, it is unacceptable to talk about inappropriate topics or to post photos of yourself in a sexual manner. Establishing these rules for your children will teach them how to behave appropriately online and give you an idea of what to look out for.
It is also important to note that these rules do not just relate to the internet. Your children need to know that inappropriate behavior anywhere online will not be tolerated. This means that they should not be posting about inappropriate topics or behavior on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter even if they do not think that their parents will catch them in the act.
Take Time To Understand How Your Children Feel
One of the most important aspects of parenting is understanding how your children feel. Even when they are doing their best to act responsibly and to obey your rules, there is still an element of unpredictability that comes with being a teenager. This is why it is important to take the time to understand how your children are feeling rather than just focusing on what they are doing.
One way of doing this is by getting to know their friends. If you talk to your children about their friendships, you can learn a lot about them. Are they happy? Do they get along with their friends? Does the male-female dynamic cause tension? These are just some of the questions that you can ask to get a sense of how your children are feeling.
Another way of understanding how your children feel is by paying attention to their emotions. They might be hiding something from you, and it could be that they are not comfortable sharing their true feelings with you. If you want to be able to supervise their online activities safely, it is essential that you understand how they feel about the whole thing. Take time to observe them and learn to read the signs correctly. You can ask them questions about their emotions or let them talk about their feelings. This might help bring those feelings to the surface and allow you to address them appropriately.
Don’t Forget To Include Your Children In The Conversation
It is important for parents to remember that it is not just their responsibility to protect their children online. It is also their responsibility to make sure that they are including their children in the conversation about safety online. This means that even when their children are not present, they should be having these conversations about online dangers and responsibility. It is never easy being a parent, and these conversations can be difficult but also very necessary. You can include your children in these talks by asking them questions about what they have discovered online or what their thoughts are on certain topics. It can also be helpful to ask other adults who have kids the same age as your children about what they think their peer group thinks about these issues. This can help you get an idea of how your children are really reacting to certain situations rather than simply what they are telling you about themselves.
Hopefully, these tips will help you establish open and honest communication with your children while still having them accessible when you need to talk to them about important issues. Remember that you are not alone in this task and that there are other parents out there who are also trying to establish healthy internet relationships with their teens. Parenting a teenager can be challenging, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences in a parent’s life. Establishing good habits now will only make the future of parenting easier and more enjoyable.