Social Media and Internet Safety:

Our children have grown up with access to TV, video games, social media, texting etc. Because
they’ve been surrounded by it their whole lives, they often feel they know how to keep
themselves safe in their online interactions, however, that is not often the case. Parents play a
vital role in helping their kids learn how to stay safe. Starting from a young age (although it’s
never too late to start) there are a few interventions that can help with this process. (American
Academy of Pediatrics, 2018)

1. Make your own family media use plan. This will look different for every family. For
some guidance here’s a website that helps parents create a plan that works for their
family. HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan
2. Set media limits. About 25% of teens report that they are “constantly connected” to the
internet. Help teens disconnect by having electronics turned in at night.
3. Be a good role model. Model kindness in your interactions online and limit your own
media use.
4. Spend time with them online. Play a video game or watch videos with them. This gives
you an opportunity to demonstrate appropriate media use and gives you time to connect
with your child.
5. Do YOUR homework about apps. Know your kid’s and teen’s friends, both online and
off. Know what platforms, software, and apps they’re using. Parents are often surprised
that their child has social media accounts on sites they didn’t know about.
6. Keep lines of communication open so your kids/teens can reach out to you with any
questions or concerns. Teens will make mistakes with their media use so try to handle
errors with empathy.
7. Practical privacy. Keep computers in a “public” location rather than their bedroom. Trust
your child enough to give them room to explore responsibly and don’t violate their
privacy without justifiable cause. However, maintain the ability to check up on your teen
if they begin to show suspicious behavior. This can be achieved through an internet
monitoring app. https://www.safesearchkids.com/best-parental-control-
app/#.YxexbXbMK3A

Social media use has pros and cons. Online relationships can be amazing for teens, and social
media can support them as they explore and discover more about themselves. However, there are
also many dangers to social media and internet use. The following are some guidelines that
parents can share with their teens to improve internet safety (SafeSearchKids, 2018).
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/online-safety:

1. Don’t add strangers to your friends list. A recent study found that 68% of teens have
accepted friend requests from strangers and 8% have accepted every friend request
they’ve received.
2. Keep your posts private and check your privacy settings frequently.
3. Be careful what you share. Be aware that things you post online may stay there for years
possibly affecting jobs and school.
4. Use good etiquette.

5. Warn your teens about the dangers of cyber bullying on social media. Nearly 15% of high
school students report being bullied online. Online bullying consists of harassment
through social media, text message, email, and other messaging platforms. This type of
bullying often occurs 24 hours a day. Some online bullying has a sexual component. The
misconception is that the teen always sends the compromising material but this isn’t
always the case. Warn your teens about the dangers of online predators and sexting. Once
they send a message or picture they may not be able to delete it, and the receiver may
take a screenshot of it. (Backgroundchecks.org, 2020)

References:
Admin. (2021, November 18). Parent guide to protecting teens on social media. Safe Search
Kids. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.safesearchkids.com/parents-guide-
to-protecting-teens-on-social-media/#.Yxeyc3bMK3C
Cyber bullying: The definitive guide for educators, parents, and family members. Background
Checks.org. (2020). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from

Cyber Bullying: Helping the Bullied, Stopping the Bullies


Kids & Tech: Tips for parents in the Digital age. HealthyChildren.org. (2018, October 8).
Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-
life/Media/Pages/Tips-for-Parents-Digital-Age.aspx