The world we live in is more connected than ever before. We can now communicate with someone across the world in seconds. This makes for an incredibly open and exciting world but it can also be overwhelming and even a little dangerous for teenagers.  

The opportunity for strangers to be in contact with young people has grown immensely with the internet, but there are positive things about social media and there are ways to avoid unpleasant interactions online. We encourage you to be open with your teenager about using social media responsibly. Use these tips to guide you while talking to your teen about social media.

Private Messages VS Public Posts

This is something that often leads to negative interactions or unintentional sharing of private information. A good rule of thumb is this: If you wouldn’t say it out loud to a room full of people, put it in a private message. Social media allows you to be social much more often than before the invention of these platforms. The key is to know what times are appropriate to interact publicly, and when to interact privately.  

Assume that any comment you make on a public post will be seen by anyone and everyone, and approach that comment as such. Also keep in mind that even though you are behind a screen, the things you do and say on social media can have repercussions. The golden rule applies to social media: Treat others how you would like to be treated!

Social Media is Highlight Reel

We often see teens feeling pressured to look a certain way or we see them develop insecurities that are fueled by being inundated with peers on social media having “perfect” lives.  The truth is that social media is a highlight reel. Explaining to your teen that those profiles of the “perfect” person don’t encompass the full picture will help them to understand that they’re only seeing the good things.

Social media is used to highlight the positives and glamorous aspects of life and to leave out any negatives a person is experiencing in their day-to-day. By remembering that everyone has a story and that social media allows each person to pick and choose what they share will help teens to better understand that no one is perfect. Encourage your teen to avoid comparisons to others and to instead enjoy social media as entertainment and a way to be inspired instead of feeling down.

Secure Your Profile

This starts with a strong password and includes everything from not posting personal information online and being aware of posting your location. Social media allows people to get a glimpse into your life, but it’s important to not give them every bit of information.

Showcasing your location can put you in harm’s way and is not a necessary aspect of using social media. One way to ensure that your profile is secure is to change your settings to private, this will require anyone that wants to see your profile to follow you. In order to follow you, you need to accept them.  This keeps your profile hidden from strangers and those you haven’t allowed to see your information.

Social media is fun for teens, and it gives them an outlet to express themselves and interact socially even when they aren’t physically with their friends. Keep these things in mind to keep your teens’ social media experience fun and safe!