In today’s electronic world, your teen is more likely to start exploring the internet at an early age. It’s likely that they explored around as a younger child. Simply googling things that came to their mind to satisfy their curiosities. When they were younger, they may have had a monitor on their devices. Supervision on whatever websites or games they accessed.
Now as teens, they have more freedom and independence online. Popular social media apps like Instagram and TikTok have taken younger generations by storm. They are very popular outlets to post and share on. Social media is a very bittersweet thing and can have drastic influences on individuals.
Unfortunate events like bullying tend to take place on online platforms. People have the option to completely anonymize themselves, making it very difficult to know exactly who is bullying your teen. Online platforms also hold room for harassment, judgment, and sometimes even exploitation. Cyberbullying is more common now than ever and can be detrimental to a teen.
It’s crucial that your teen is staying safe and understanding the oftentimes overlooked dangers of engaging in online platforms. Unfortunately, teens can sometimes even fall victim to “sugar daddy/sugar mommy” schemes, where anonymous individuals trick teens into believing that they want to provide the teens with large amounts of money. This can lead to private information such as bank information or personal information to be exposed or stolen.
Therefore, being able to discuss what it means to be online with your teen is important. You know that they’re old enough now to be independent and have your trust; yet you still want to ensure they are being safe and smart about things. These conversations can sometimes be difficult, maybe even uncomfortable, but are very important to have!
Read our teen blogs on social media about understanding if your teen is too focused on social media.
As well as learning how social media affects your teen by clicking these links.
Teen therapy in Simi Valley, Ca, provides your teen a safe space to open up about their social media engagement.
How to Protect Your Teen Online: Discuss online reputation
It’s known that on the internet, things tend to last around forever. Even if we think we delete something, it’s very possible that it’s floating around the internet elsewhere. We all know that the internet can be filled with creeps or pedophiles posing as younger individuals or friends.
Discussing online reputation with your teen can help them think twice about what they post.
Posts such as leaving cyberbullying comments may feel funny to them at the moment. Also known as “trolling”, however those comments will last with them forever. In the times of social media booming, teens are being called out; to take responsibility for inappropriate comments or pictures posted on social media. This can look like posting about homophobia, sexism, racism, or being plain cruel to someone. It’s not a good look and is simply wrong.
Images that could be deemed inappropriate or sexual in nature may also circulate the internet unintentionally. Although they may be trying to look cute for their crush, it could receive attention from the wrong, unintended people. It’s important to be careful what they share and post on social media due to that.
Teen therapists in Simi Valley, Ca, provide a space for teens to express vulnerability regarding their views on social media.
How to Protect Your Teen Online: Talk about being responsible
Talking about being responsible on the internet is huge. Teens may sometimes be oblivious to potential dangers, such as messaging someone who isn’t who they claim to be. Popular social media sites or chat rooms may allow users to withhold using their real identity; offering them avatars or blank profile pictures. This can be useful for someone protecting their identity for the right reasons; it can also be useful for someone with bad intentions.
As mentioned above, there are certain social media trends regarding having a “sugar daddy/sugar mommy” or someone who offers them large amounts of money.
As teens, they aren’t fully aware that they are being lied to, and may view this as an exciting opportunity towards financial independence.
Having difficult conversations about what they may encounter on the internet is important, and may be uncomfortable for the both of you. You can inquire if they have come across any internet scammers posting as generous, wealthy “daddys/mommys”. Maybe they even came across a porn site that can potentially flood their computer with viruses.
Click here to read about starter sentences to help your teen open up! This is a great way to establish rapport and trust between you and your teen when discussing their social media usage. Let them know that they can come to you with anything and that you want to be involved with their internet usage – to a certain extent.
Laying the foundation for potential dangers, your teen will be able to identify situations where they are at risk for exploitation or having identity theft. Things to not do such as:
- Sharing private information including but not limited to their home address, social security number, credit card information.
- Showing personal information about themselves or their family members including but not limited to their locations, birthdays, bank account information.
- Sharing photographs of themselves or family members inappropriately to strangers
- Being able to identify who a trustworthy person on the internet is (can be difficult).
You have probably heard stories about teens claiming to meet the love of their lives on social media. Only to disappear without leaving a trace. These unfortunate and sad stories are the result of teens interacting with the wrong people; people who pose as someone else, people who lie about their past/present. People can also manipulate your teen into thinking they love them or want to get married.
Child grooming is a term defined as an older individual manipulating a younger person with ill intentions. Teens may meet anonymous individuals in chat rooms, gaming rooms, or public video rooms like Omegle. Pedophiles groom their victims to believe they don’t need friends or family. Even convincing them that they should meet up with them instead. Sadly resulting in unfortunate events to come.
Being responsible on the internet means understanding the risks that come with using it. People are not always who they say they are and may very well have ill intentions. Being able to establish an open, trusting relationship with your teen gives you a better chance to protect them and understand what they are engaging in online.
Although scary, review the dangers at stake. Provide examples of teens who fell victim to trusting strangers online, but don’t blame the teenagers for that. They are young and still needing support in navigating being online. Don’t offer shame and blame, but highlight how important it is to stay on their toes!
Family therapy in Simi Valley, Ca, offers a space for all family members to share concerns about their teen in a healthy, positive manner.
How to Protect Your Teen Online: Show them trust
At the end of it all, no teen wants to have their posts monitored or controlled by their parents. It can create division and tension between teens and parents if they are constantly forced to remove something or re-post it in a different manner. Acts of rebellion such as creating secret accounts can occur if they feel you cannot trust them to make their own decisions.
By showing them trust, they will also feel more confident in their abilities to safely navigate the internet. You can show them trust in a few different ways:
- Respecting if they don’t want to give you access to their social media accounts
- Telling them directly that you trust them
- Offering for them to come to you with any questions or concerns about their posts
- Telling them that you love and support them and trust they’ll make the right decision.
You love your teen and know that the internet is also full of a lot of positives. They are able to meet same-age mutuals who have similar interests and hobbies online. Many online friends oftentimes meet in person and have a great experience doing so. Being able to connect with people all over the world online can be a positive thing for sure.
Wanting to make sure your teen respects themself and knows the risks of the internet, allow yourself to believe that they also know the positives. There’s no way to shield them from every single negativity on the internet, and it’s inevitable that they may stumble across a bad situation.
Have the trust in your teen and within yourself that they will make the right decision. Being able to connect with your teen to review all these materials should just allow your bond to be stronger. Approach your teen with respect and open mindedness when discussing social media usage.
At the end of the day, you just care for your teen! You want to make sure they stay safe, smart, and responsible for themselves and others. Click here to read tips for boundary setting with your teen for social media usage. Click here to read about teenage friendships and why they are so important, where approved online friends can be a major positive influence in their lives.
More about Simi Psychological Group:
We are a team of psychologists and therapists in Simi Valley, Ca offering an array of therapy services.
At our therapy practice in Simi Valley, Ca we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing. Now Offering Online Therapy in Los Angeles and Online Counseling Ventura County