Sunday, March 20, 2016

Social Media Safety Tips for Teens and Parents

Source: Woman Online Magazine
Once in a while I get asked to talk to a mixed group of high school students and their parents about social media and the possible consequences when it is misused. So given the broad use of social media by teens (see graphic) it seems like a good excuse to encapsulate some of the things I say. 

For Students: 
• Anything posted on social media can (and will) be shared by others regardless of your privacy settings. There really is no such thing as "private" in social media so if you don’t want others to see it DON’T POST IT. 
• Social media can be a good thing, but if you (teens) ever feel uncomfortable by something you see or read on social, trust those feelings and talk to someone you trust – a parent, a teacher, some other adult you trust. Bullying, threats and cruelty on social media are all signs that the person doing those things needs help. 
• For high school juniors and seniors: Clean up your social media. If you don’t think those colleges you’d like to attend aren’t looking at what you post, think again. If social media is the place you must vent go analog … write your "vent" on paper chew it and swallow it … it’s the only 100 percent way you can be sure no one else will ever see it….. 
• Understand that collectively what you post online adds up to your personal brand. What people find out about you in a Google search is what they believe to be a picture of you. Make sure that is a flattering picture. If you need help managing your online reputation use tools such as brandyourself.com and reputation.com 
• And last, but no least: Have fun on social media (but never at someone else’s expense) because if you’re not enjoying it why are you using it? 

For Parents: 
• You cannot control social media – accept that fact and work on developing your students’ life skills: self-esteem, good judgment and knowing where to turn when things get uncomfortable unkind and, yes, unthinkable…. 
• Have such a good relationship with your teen that they are OK with you being their "friend" on social networks. I know, much easier said than done – but well, well worth the effort. 
• Always be open to your teen’s concerns. Even the most innocuous question from a teen can sometimes be rooted in something they’ve been exposed to on social media. 
• Ensure that any teen under 18 using a smartphone has to get your permission to download an app (this is a setting on most smartphones) and do your research before agreeing to the download. 
• Parents hosting drinking parties think they’re being smart by taking cellphones from kids at the party, but those neighborhood kids who weren’t invited or adults who don’t appreciate what’s going on? They’ll share their photos and thoughts on social media and you can’t control that…. 

Two Good Resources: 
• The American Academy of Pediatrics says: "While today’s tweens and teens may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and life experience can quickly get them into trouble with these new social venues." It offers a series of practical tips in Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting 
WebMD says: "It's a parent's responsibility to parent around the technology" before offering guidance in such areas as Getting Started, Setting Guidelines and Checking In in the article Social Media: What Parents Must Know 

Related Post: Talking to Kids About Social Media and Other Online Activities

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