How to Handle Social Media Behavior of Teenagers
SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR TEENAGERS
It’s a fact that most parents are feeling left behind when it comes to social media. It is common to find three year olds using a phone effortlessly; to play games, make calls, take selfies among other things. Technology has changed our world and we are trying so hard to keep up with it.
It is important for parents to pause for a while and see things from their children’s perspective. They were born in a world of technology. It is their normal. They have never been without it. And this well explains why all hell breaks loose the moment you take away social media from your teenager.
Having said that, your children should not be left to use social media without guidance and supervision. Doing this will, will lead to a dangerous downward spiral in their lives because they are left vulnerable to an adult world. As a parent, it is your responsibility to let your teenager know that their online world is not their private world and you have a right to be part of it. Failure to do this will make your child take uncalculated risks that may leave them vulnerable to issues relating to pornography, sexting, paedophiles and cyberbullying.
Online problems can go undetected for lengthy periods of time without parents noticing them. There are teenagers who are hooked up to pornography for months or even years without their parents’ knowledge. Others have encountered cyber bullying for long and no one knows about it.
One strategy that ensures safety in social media use is communication. It far outweighs every other strategy. One of the best ways of ensuring safe use of social media by your teenage child is encouraging transparency. Insist on transparency. You have a right to do so. It may sound difficult but it is doable. Ask for transparency confidently. Let your expectations be known without mincing your words. You might feel like you are intruding into their personal lives, but as the saying goes, ‘you have to be in it to win it’. No parent should ever allow their child to bully them out of their world. One of the trickiest things to keep a hold of is passwords. For reasons only known to them, teenagers keep changing their passwords. Let them inform you every time they do so. And there are softwares available to help you in this if it proves difficult.
It is also important for you to be respectful once your teenager opens up their online world to you. Do not be overly involved in her chats. Don’t comment on everything. A little discretion will go a long way in winning her trust. Do not over react on every error she makes. Be silent. Discuss only what is very crucial.
You should never as a parent stop talking about the things that concern you and your child openly. This may not eliminate the risks but it definitely will reduce them. Be the first person to speak up about these issues to your child. Be brave enough to bring up the topic. Be upfront about it. Your teenage child may never speak about them. There will be awkward moments in your conversations but keep going. And remember not to be put off by their initial reactions.
The more you talk about sensitive issues, the more it makes your children know that they can always talk to you. It tells them that you identify with the issues they may be facing.