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Social Media: What Teens & Their Parents Should Keep in Mind

Article by Giemaly Soto

Social media is a huge part of most teenagers’ lives, and the majority of teenagers report consistently using some type of social media platform on a regular basis. These platforms include, but are not limited to, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. With smartphones being a common possession for kids and teens, social media is even more easily accessible. Therefore, it is important for teens and their parents to keep the benefits and risks of these online platforms in mind.

Social media can be considered a normal part of growing up for most children and adolescents nowadays. Social media can be a space for a lot of positive online experiences for your kids. It gives teens the space to communicate with others and build a social network of their peers where they seek valuable and immediate support when they’re feeling lonely, stressed, or upset. It can also be used for entertainment and self-expression, and to expose users to current, important events.

While social media has its benefits, there are some things that parents should keep in mind about their children’s usage:

1. Parents, remain curious and interested in what your teens are coming across on social media. One way to do this is to find out what particular apps and sites your child is using, and get them. This is an easy way to learn the ins and outs of the platform and better understand what your child can do or have access to.

2. Try to keep an open dialogue with your teens and remind them that you are open to answering any questions they might have about what they’ve read or heard on these platforms.

3. Be up front and honest about your concerns as a parent and share that you’d like to discuss these worries so that they know what to do and that they can turn to you for support if they ever run into any problems. Have a conversation about their digital footprint and privacy. Explain that all their online posts, comments, likes, and shares can be kept forever even if they delete it themselves and discuss what kind and how much personal information can be too much information.

There are also some things that teens should additionally keep in mind as they continue to access, skim, and post on these different platforms:

1. Recognize your limits. Avoid letting social media interfere with your activities, sleep, meals, or homework. Click the screen time tab in your settings to see exactly how much time you spend on certain apps and try setting reasonable time limits for each.

2. Double-check where and who you’re getting information from. Do some fact-checking of the content being shared and see if accounts are run by certified, educated, and/or trained individuals.

3. Remember that your friends are sharing the best parts of their day. Social media can be easily construed to make it look like everyone is “living their best life.” Keep in mind that everyone has times where they’re feeling lonely or bored and likely won’t be posting those particular experiences online.

Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that social media can provide teens with meaningful connections to their peers. However, there are things to keep in mind to make sure that it remains a positive online experiences for everyone involved. Parents, remember that most kids and teens are active online and it can serve as a really supportive social network, source of entertainment, and space to learn about countless topics. Teens, remember that social media has its pros and cons. Know your own limits and recognize when it is time to take a step back from social media.

Check out these helpful sites to learn more on this topic:

For parents:
How to Know if your Child is Oversharing
Parent’s Guide to Protecting Teens on Social Media

For teens:
Teens and Social Media
Teens Guide to Social Media Safety

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