Setting Up Rules and Monitoring Tools for Teens Social Media Use
Teenagers with access to the internet and social media networks enjoy communicating with friends, following celebrities or sports heroes and chatting with people all over the world who have the same hobbies and interests. However, parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of social media and work with their teens to establish a set of rules to monitor use.
Here are five things that parents can do to establish rules for teens regarding social media:
- Talk to teens. Parents may assume that teens know how to behave online and in social media groups, but it’s always a good idea to have the conversation anyhow. Parents should stress that the teens should never post personal information, such as an address or cell phone number. Teens should never share their login information with others, except for with parents. Teens should also be told that they need to report any activity or information that makes them uncomfortable or that is inappropriate.
- Establish Check-up Rules. Parents need to let their teenagers know that they will be checking their accounts periodically. Parents should request that teens provide up-to-date login information as part of the conditions of being online and that the information is not negotiable. While teens may resist, claiming that this is an invasion of privacy, it’s important for parents to see what minor children are doing online.
- Limit Use. Social media has the potential to take up a lot of time for teens, so parents can set limits on where and when teens have access to electronics. Many parents insist that there will be no electronics during family dinners, after bedtime and when visitors are present (such as grandparents). Parents should also practice what they preach and limit their own electronics use in the same situations.
- Learn the Technology. Parents should never voluntarily stay in the dark when it comes to social media. If a teen joins a social media site, a parent should as well. Whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or an online chat room, parents need to become as savvy as possible with social media. Parents should note that if a teen’s social media activity seems to taper off, it’s possible that the teen has set up an alternate account.
- Outline Penalties. Often, teens try to push the boundaries and rules set up to protect them when using social media. Parents should establish what the punishments will be for teens that break the rules beforehand. That way, teens know the consequences of misbehaving and parents can easily enact penalties rather than seem inconsistent on enforcing the rules. Teens will quickly learn that breaking the rules leads to a loss of privilege and most teens would rather keep their electronics and live by the rules.
It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their teens are using social media responsibly and are not instigating or receiving cyberbullying. Parents can also help safeguard impressionable teens from online predators. However, parents can only help their teens if they are involved and active, so it’s critical for parents to set up rules regarding social media use for teens.