Questions & Answers provided by Common Sense Media
How do I keep up with the latest social apps and sites teens are using?
- Take a little time to do your research. Our reviews and parenting advice can be an excellent starting point.
- Most importantly, talk — and listen — to your kids. Even if you can’t stay on top of every new app, concentrate your efforts on keeping the lines of communication open so kids will come to you if a problem arises.
- Make sure kids know it’s OK to make mistakes and that they don’t need to hide these from you — that you can actually help them through tough spots.
- Have your kid use your app store account or an account linked to your email, so you’ll be notified when an app is downloaded. Consider making a rule, at least until they’re older, that they can’t download an app or sign up for an online account without asking you first.
- Ask which apps and sites are popular with your teen’s friends. Kids may open up more when they’re talking about someone else.
- Share what you’re using. Show them your Facebook page, favorite videos, or a game you’re obsessed with. They may be inspired to reciprocate.
How do I help my child avoid digital drama?
- Help set boundaries. Understand that these days relationships often are played out both online and offline. Kids need their family’s guidance in establishing appropriate boundaries for healthy relationships.
- Take a time-out. With constant access to texting and posting online, kids don’t get a break from the back and forth that can keep digital drama going. Have some device-free time to give kids a chance to cool off.
Let them know you’re always there for them. Remind your kids often that you’re always available to talk. While you’re at it, remind them about the school counselor, a favorite teacher, a coach, or even a friend’s parent. Knowing that they have a trusted adult to talk to may encourage teens to open up more.
Use media to talk about drama. Reality TV shows often present extreme behavior as entertainment. Discuss why these shows are less likely to depict positive conflict resolution. Also talk about how these shows can encourage negative stereotypes about female friendships.
What are the social media basics for high school kids?
High school teens are living their lives online. They’re checking their friends’ status updates (and posting their own), watching their favorite shows, uploading photos and videos, playing games, chatting on IM, video-chatting, exploring their interests, and accessing information and files that fuel their passions.
By high school, parents hope, kids understand the basics of thinking before they post, being kind, and using privacy settings. High school kids also need to think about a few extra issues:
- Think about your online reputation. Remind teens that anyone can see what they post online — even if they think no one will. Potential employers and college admissions staff often browse social-networking sites. Ask your teens to think about who might see their pages and how others might interpret their posts or photos.
- Anything they create or communicate can be cut, altered, pasted, and sent around. Once they put something online, it’s out of their control and can be taken out of context and used to hurt them or someone else. This includes writing as well as photos of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Tell them that online stuff can last forever. If they wouldn’t put something on the wall of the school hallway, they shouldn’t post it online.
- Avoid drama. Don’t forward harmful messages or embarrassing photos, and don’t impersonate other people by using their accounts or devices or create fake pages.
- Don’t post your location. Social networks allow kids to post their locations, and, although it might be tempting to use these features to connect with friends or brag about where they’ve been, it’s just not safe for teens.
- Watch the clock. Social-networking sites can be real time sucks. Hours and hours can go by, which isn’t great for getting homework done, practicing sports or music, or reading.
Should I demand my kid's passwords to his or her social websites and apps?
Here’s a little secret: Having your kid’s passwords does nothing to make your kid safer online. Every kid knows it’s a cinch to change passwords, create a new account you don’t know about, or simply block you from ever seeing anything he or she posts. Instead, work together to make sure your kids develop their own sense of responsibility, and try not to have a parent-versus-child dynamic. Have regular check-ins, review their privacy settings, see who their online friends are, and take an interest in their online activities.