‘What in the world were you thinking?’, ‘How could you post that?’, ‘I wasn’t expecting that from you.’ these are some of the sentences you often say to your young ones when they do something stupid or totally outrageous. When we were teens, our parents had to deal with problems like late hangouts with friends, driving a car without their permission etc. but today, the worries of parents regarding their teenagers have changed. The biggest of all is the internet, social media and then the usage of smartphones.
Teens are smarter than us in using technology but they are not smarter in making decisions about using the internet right. If only our teens could logically think like we do, they would see the dangers looming around them. That’s because the adult brain works differently than adolescent brain when it comes to risk assessment. So, you can’t really stop your kid from taking risks by just showing them the statistics of a new research. That’s why even the smartest teens can act dumb when surrounded by the temptations of the online world.
Pew Research Center says that 1 in 3 of parents seems to be concerned about the digital habits of their children. The Australian Psychology Society conducted a national survey of 1000 adults over 18 years and 150 youngsters between 14 to 17 years. The purpose of the survey was to look at how technology and social media impacts on the well-being of these individuals. Most parts of the survey revealed a positive role of social media but it also highlighted its negative impact which cannot be ignored. The use of social media and technology had an unhealthy impact on the self-esteem of the youth. 2 in 3 youth felt the pressure to look good and a third of the youth have been bullied online. 15 percent of the teenagers reported they were approached by strangers on a daily basis on the internet. The survey also revealed that 60 percent of the parents never bother monitoring the social media accounts of their teen or use child monitoring apps. Most of the parents are not sure how to provide guidance to their teens to use social media approximately.
Wondering how to protect your teenager online? It starts with you. As long as you are engaged with the online world of your kid, you can protect them from lots of dangers whether it is sexting, porn, online predators, cyberbullies, bad company, posting inappropriate content online and so on.
How to protect your teen online? Hear it from the expert
A Cybersecurity expert Theresa Payton says that it is not enough for parents to know where their kids are going and what they are doing online. In fact, parents need to be where their kids are. Payton says that just like we never give the car keys to your kid before showing them how to drive, don’t let them join the social networks before you yourself haven’t learned how to use them.
A little monitoring is a good thing
It’s easy to find Android monitoring apps like Xnspy that can track the movements of our kids and even let us monitor how they use the internet. It is ok to use them since they help you keep up with your kids. Your teen might consider this intrusive surveillance so it is best if you set some family ground rules. They must understand that you don’t want to invade their privacy, you want to help them just like you do when they are doing their homework. Everything simple, monitor them when you have to and make sure they know about it.
Give them a dose of reality (communicate)
To be honest, you cannot always be actively monitoring your kid with child monitoring apps to see what they are posting online or who they are talking to. A little communication and education can help. Your teen will never know how to protect their identity online unless you teach them. Just make your kid sit and show them how to Google themselves. This will be a visual demonstration of how easy it is for others to extract your details and whereabouts. That will make them understand why you are always advising them to be careful about what they post online.
Apart from this, have a talk about, drugs, alcohol, the right approach to sexual intercourse, sexting, the tactics online predators use and anything else that’s appropriate to their age and they must know. As long as your teen understands ‘why the restrictions you put matter’, they will listen to you.
Keep the lines of communication open so that whenever they run into any trouble – like being cyberbullied or when they see some disturbing content- you are the first person they come for help.
Be a good role model
Our kids copy a lot of things we do on a daily basis and that doesn’t change even if they become teens. If you have social media addiction yourself, you cannot really blame your teen. It’s time you make some house rules and follow them so that your teen is obligated and encouraged to follow them too.
P.S. Haven’t set any house rules yet? Set them ASAP. Examples are no technology around dinner time, a tech-free Tuesday, no texting while driving, sleep with your phone turned off etc.
As adults, instead of relying on child monitoring apps all-in-all or putting other governors on your teens to keep them safe online, we should be more involved in their lives from a younger age and become their media mentors to channel their behavior and choices towards the right direction.