In a world where teenagers have grown up socializing on social media, it’s important to teach them how to be good digital citizens when interacting online. This can be a complicated job because you need to balance respecting their privacy with maintaining awareness of what they are doing online.
How to talk to your teen about what they post on social media
Starting a conversation with your teen about appropriate posting on social media can feel overwhelming, particularly if you aren’t familiar with all of the technologies that they are using. Even if you aren’t a technological guru, you have plentiful life experience that can help guide your kids through life’s tricky situations. Start with a conversation about why social media is important to them and why they use it. This conversation can get to the heart of your child’s motivations and get them thinking about why they post the things they do.
After you’ve established a baseline conversation about social media use, it’s important to set clear expectations and guidelines without being too controlling. This conversation should be more about building trust and empowering your teen to make their own smart decisions rather than a lay-down-the-law lecture. In this ongoing conversation, address topics like privacy settings, what personal information is appropriate to share online, how much screen time they are allowed, and how you can never really delete things from the internet.
Another strategy for encouraging teens to make smart social media decisions is to lead by example. Your teen might follow you on social media accounts, and they will take notice of how you interact with others online. This includes being careful of what content you share, what articles you retweet, and what you comment on other people’s content. If your teen sees you engaging in fights in Facebook comments or sharing hurtful content, they are not likely to listen to your suggestions when it comes to appropriate social media presence.
As it’s becoming increasingly common for teens to have secret accounts such as a finsta (fake Instagram), you should engage in a discussion about these accounts and why kids are trying to hide certain content. Instead of demanding to see theirs or requiring them to delete it, ask your teen why she is trying to hide certain content and would she be comfortable if this content fell into the wrong hands. It’s possible that a fake account your teen has is completely harmless, but you won’t know that until you engage in an open discussion about it.
It’s important to continue having these non-judgemental conversations with your child surrounding social media. If you only try to police them, they will resist, but it feels more like an interaction and exchanging of ideas, they are more likely to open up to you. Keeping the line of communication open will help foster a trusting relationship and make future conversations easier as well.
Solstice East can help
Solstice East is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls ages 14-17 that specializes in treating teens with anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and unhealthy behaviors. Our clients receive a unique combination of therapeutic techniques stemming from traditional and holistic mental health treatments.
We strive to equip our students with the ability to believe in themselves by providing the tools, support, and motivation necessary to instill these beliefs for life. For more information about how Solstice East can help please call 828-484-9946.