6 Tips on How Parents Can Help Keep Teens Safe on Social Media

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teen on social media

If you parent a teen, you likely know that he or she loves connecting with friends on social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all popular websites that teens like to frequent. Naturally, parents will have some concerns about their teen’s safety online since cyber bullying, Internet predators and hackers are a growing problem.

Set Social Media Ground Rules

Parents must have a frank conversation about social media with their teens. Ask your teens what kind of image they want to portray online and what you define as acceptable conduct. It might be helpful to devise a contract between you and your teen outlining how they are expected to act online, how often they are allowed to connect to their various accounts and what if any consequences are reasonable if they violate a particular rule. By fleshing out the terms of what is expected, parents and teens have a better understanding of navigating the Internet.

Monitor Usage & Have Access to Passwords On Social Media Accounts

Try to keep the home computer in a public place so you can watch your teen’s website usage. Put restrictions or blocks on certain sites as an added safety measure. If you are concerned about social media usage on your teen’s cell phone, you can also add blocks and usage limits to help protect them. Although you teen may resist giving you his or her password to these accounts, knowing this information will help you monitor activity to ensure that they are safe online.

Encourage Privacy of Online Identity On Social Media

Oftentimes teens will get comfortable on a particular website and feel the need to reveal private identity information, like their address, Social Security information and the school that they attend. Encourage your teens to always keep identity information private and not reveal it online. Divulging this information may lead to identity theft, cyber stalking or attract an Internet predator. To read more about these topics, visit LifeLock Unlocked.

Report Suspicious Activity

Advise your teens to report any encounter that makes them feel uncomfortable from a stranger or a friend. If a stranger is inundating your teens with friend requests or trying to message him or her on Facebook or Twitter, tell them to report that kind of behavior to you immediately. Also, encourage your teen to talk to you if they feel like an acquaintance or friend is engaging in cyber bullying or stalking that crosses line. Silence can lead to irreparable damage and letting your teens know that they can talk to you when this occur is a crucial in preventing a more serious situation.

Teach the Internet is Permanent

Inappropriate photographs or language can harm your teens’ chances in potentially securing a job or other position. Many companies review the online profiles of their applicants and a picture portraying risqué behavior might prevent them from getting a job. Even if your teen deletes certain incriminating pictures or posts, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is erased. Ask your teens to carefully consider what they post to save themselves from future harmful consequences.

Check In with Your Own Profile

Parents might want to set up their own profile on social media sites so they can periodically check in and monitor their teens’ activities. By creating your own profile, you can take a look at what they are posting on other sites, pictures that appear on their feeds and the friends that are connected to their page.

Having a frank discussion about the ground rules and taking an active role in monitoring your teens’ safety online is an important step in preventing cyber issues.

Do you monitor your teens online?

Disclosure

Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.

Comments

  1. Thankfully the internet was in its early stages when my girls where teenagers, it is my grandchildren I have to worry about but thankfully their mothers are fully aware of how dangerous the internet can be and so when their children are older enough to want to use social media they will be right there looking over their shoulders

  2. Good advice on helping kids stay safe on social media. Sometimes advice and experiences from older siblings or cousins may help reinforce the messages.

  3. This is great info Krystle. I no longer have children at home so don’t have to worry about that part. However, this information is also useful for seniors and lonely people. I just learned how to use Skype and I didn’t set it right because the next thing I knew I was getting connect requests from total strangers. Naturally I blocked them and changed settings, but if I wasn’t aware of this information or was lonely looking for an opportunity to connect, it might be a different story.
    Keep spreading the word about this – everyone should know and yes, the computer should be a family computer that everyone has access to and placed in a common area.

    • Good point about seniors and the lonely. I know my grandfather tends to just click on stuff sometimes and that isn’t always the best thing.

  4. Phoenicia says:

    My children are still young but I will definitely put Internet safety checks in place. I would prefer if my they did not access social media until they are 15/16 but the reality is they will want to join at 13. I would rather monitor their use on social media as oppose to them setting up profiles without my knowledge.

    So glad social media did not exist in my teenage years. At least then, once school was out you had no need to see or hear from any of your peers. Now, there is no respite. I would have hated it and refrained from using it.

    • My son was just asking about having a FB page the other day! Only because he thinks he can get extra stuff in his games. He doesn’t really understand what FB is yet only being 9. We told him no! I know you mean. The thing when I was a kid was AIM and chat rooms.

  5. Beth Niebuhr says:

    What I like best about your suggestions is the one that talks about starting the process by asking teens what image they want to portray. Much better than just telling them, your approach gets them engaged in the conversation right from the start.

    • Thanks Beth! It’s all about the angles with teens and kids. Approach something one way and they are all for it approach it another and they are rolling their eyes.

  6. These are great tips! My kids are a bit young for social media, but these are things I’m starting to think about. We will have an understanding that if they’re on the computer or social media, they need to expect me to be checking up on them. I know there’s a debate about whether “spying” on your kids is OK, but I say it’s not spying if it’s one of the ground rules. I like your idea about having my own profile to follow them from.

  7. Jacqueline Gum says:

    This is such an important topic and I hope that more parents will heed your advice. Parental interference is okay! Because I don’t think these kids have matured enough to control impulses, nor do they understand the ramifications of long term consequences. Key, to me, is having that computer in a community space and not their bedrooms.

  8. Ken Dowell says:

    This is an important conversation to have and will probably only become more so in the future. I’m not sure about the idea of asking for your teens’ passwords. It does convey some mistrust. But I do have my sons’ iPad tagged with my Apple ID. Originally I did that to control purchases he might make in the app store and because there are games that prey on kids by offering them “extras” that they don’t really know they are paying for.

    • We do the same thing with our kids tablets. Lately my oldest has been begging for an email address so he can get “extras” in a game. We told him it was a bad idea and not worth it.

  9. I don’t have any children but I sure empathize with today’s parents and the challenge of keeping kids save online. I really like your suggestions, especially the one about teaching kids that the internet is permanent. A lot of adults need to learn that lesson as well!

  10. I recently dealt with a ransomware infection on my father’s computer, so this seems like a good opportunity to impress upon teens and parents alike:

    (1) Be careful with emails: never click a link in an email or open an email attachment unless you have 100% confidence in the sender (and even then you should think twice about it).

    (2) Be careful with pop-up windows: always respond to them ‘negatively’ by clicking the Close or Cancel button (or its equivalent), as appropriate.

    (3) Given that you can pick up malware by simply *visiting* a Web site (and reputable sites are not immune to this), scan your computer with good anti-malware software at least once a week.

    FYI, I cleaned up my father’s computer with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which can be downloaded at: https://www.malwarebytes.com/

    • Thanks for the good tips! I too like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. It helped me out on a job where I was always having to click random links.

  11. As a former PI, I have seen a lot of things.
    This is a good post, you cannot do too much to keep your children sage from predators and sickos out there.
    Thanks for sharing this with us, it had some great tips.

  12. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    My kids are only 8 & 11, so they are not on social media yet. Thankfully I have at least 5 more years before I need to worry about this 🙂

  13. These are so important! My son is only 2 right now, but I know before I know it he’ll be online. And I’ll be watching his every move!

  14. Great ideas. I am terrified of having teenagers and dealing with all this. On IG you see, just scrolling straight up porn, it’s terrible! Right now my three boys are little but soon they’re going to be wanting to and these are some great things to do when that time comes.

    • Not looking forward to the day either. Just the other day my son was asking about FB. I was like if you can explain to me what FB is then maybe we’ll talk. He had no clue LOL.

  15. This is such good advice! I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit nervous to see where social media will be by the time my daughter is a teenager. It’s adds a whole new dynamic to parenting!

  16. It is so important to keep your children safe on social media it can be so dangerous! I have certain rules with the kids I look after when using social media!

  17. Parents have a huge responsibility when it comes to kids and social media or the internet these days. I’m always frustrated when adults shrug their shoulders and say things like, “Technology isn’t my thing”…..too bad, folks, if it’s your kids thing, you better make it YOURS and pay attention!!!

  18. Siniciliya says:

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to protect teens who already feel like being adults and want to make their own decisions, but know so little about responsibility

    http://siniciliya.com/en/

  19. I try and monitor my kids online presence and I also have parental controls set up on my computer. I gotta keep them safe as much as I can and I’ve already had the talk.

  20. we don’t have teens yet, but already seeing potential issues arise.

  21. These tips are SO important. As a teacher, I see lots of students with access to social media without ground rules. It’s amazing the trouble kids can get into with this. Social media is a part of our culture and it’s not going anywhere. Therefore, it’s up to parents to set ground rules and monitor their children when it comes to internet related relationships. Thanks so much for sharing these tips! I hope more parents use them! I know I will when we have kids of our own.

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