Being a parent is a tough job, to say the least. Keeping our children safe causes a constant state of worry: how do we keep them safe? We can’t put them in bubble wrap and keep them from leaving the house, as badly as we want to.
The only way to keep our children safe is to educate them as well as we can about the dangers of life and hope they heed our warnings. It is becoming harder.
With the internet, children have access to all types of new information, and sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to contradict the messages they are receiving. Unfortunately, as children’s internet access has increased, so has the consequences.
Teens and Social Media
Over and over again, we see stories of children who have been humiliated by their peers, or worse. Despite that, we cannot keep our children completely off social media. There are skills and socialization that they need to obtain from working with social media.
Since we can’t keep them off of it, the best thing to do is teach them the best way to stay safe on social media. How do we begin that conversation? Most teens find a sit-down talk with their parents pretty painful. The best thing to do is to keep everything as simple as possible.
Long speeches will leave your child bored and disinterested. Here are a few key points you want to hit when discussing social media use with your tween.
Sharing is forever
Teens are experimenting and pushing boundaries. This is a natural part of growing up, and we all do it. It is really important that they understand sharing pictures, videos, and words on the internet are not passing decisions.
Once something is shared on the internet, it never goes away. It may be difficult, if not impossible to rid yourself of the damage to reputation and embarrassment of the wrong information getting out there. Ask your teen to think carefully before sharing.
Strangers are more dangerous than you think
One of the first things we teach our children is not to talk to strangers. On the internet, we ALL talk to strangers. People older and wiser than your tween have been completely taken in by people who are professional scammers, or worse.
Make sure your child knows how important it is not to befriend or talk with anyone who is not approved by you. Having this be a hard and fast rule for them could be the difference between life and death.
Watch out for bullies
Many children who have been bullied to the point of suicide are being bullied by people they know. The trick is, they don’t do this bullying in person. They find new ways to say cruel things, share mean-spirited photographs, and torment their peers on the internet.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Help Your Teen Cope with Depressions and Anxiety
Be sure that part of your conversation includes a warning to be careful of people who bully them on the internet, even if they know these people in real life.
Judgment free zone
Many times, our children are afraid to talk to us. They don’t want to disappoint or upset us. They don’t want to get into trouble with us as a consequence of their actions. Children hide their worries because of fear, and they suffer in silence.
Make sure that your children have enough space and trust to know that they can talk to you about anything, especially if they are afraid, without worrying that you will get on their case about it.
Let your children know that you are capable of listening to them without punishing them and that you will provide a judgment-free zone to share their fears.
Talking to tweens and teens about social media isn’t easy. When you are able to do so with love, caring, and minimal nagging, it can become a productive conversation. Give your children your best cautions, and put your mind at ease.
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