Internet safety for teens is a topic that has become increasingly important as predators find more ways to exploit their vulnerability. Many parents wonder about the dangers of social media for youth and the use of the internet as opposed to the benefits.
If you’re a parent of a teen, it’s likely you’ve already encountered unwelcome behavior. But also, you’ve seen the benefits of having access to unlimited information and being able to connect with friends.
There are some important things to know about social media and teens and the use of the internet in general.
From overuse to cyberbullying and the threat of child predators online, there certainly are a fair share of cons as seen on a survey by cybersecurity experts, ExpressVPN. The survey takes into account the attitude of both children and adults toward social media.
Here we will discuss the benefits and the risks of teens and social media, online teens safety tips, social media use, and the use of the internet so you can keep your teens safe online.
Internet Safety For Teens
The Benefits of Social Media and Online Use for Teens
When considering internet safety for teens, it’s mindful to think of the reasons why our kids use the internet and social media. It keeps them connected, offers a vehicle of expression, helps to develop communication skills, and can subject them to diversity and perspective.
Here we’ll take a closer look at these positive points starting with staying connected.
Social media can offer a way for teens to stay connected with friends and family, and like-minded individuals (especially if they live far away or attend different schools) providing a sense of social support and belonging.
This connection also offers a way for them to collaborate, plan events, and share memories from those events. Think of a sport like Football. Teammates can be part of a group chat and plan meet-ups for extra practice or team bonding.
It can also offer a means of publicity for their athletic image.
Social media can also provide teens with a platform for creative expression and self-discovery, such as sharing artwork, music, or writing. It can be a foundation to build a brand around these talents allowing for them to further develop and even monetize them.
In addition to all of these pros, social media can help kids and teens develop communication and social skills, as they learn to navigate online interactions with peers and adults. It also offers diversity.
As teens use social media they gain exposure to diverse perspectives. The opportunity to understand a variety of ideas, cultures, and perspectives, can broaden their worldview and increase empathy.
With all the positive aspects of online use among teens and kids, it’s important to know that all of these things can be turned into something detrimental. For example, while it’s convenient to have instant access to friends, it can also be used to instantly cyberbully peers.
By understanding the cons, we can promote internet safety for teens so they can get the most out of their internet use. So, let’s take a look at the dangers of social media among teens and kids.
The Dangers of Social Media for Youth
Knowledge is power and knowing the risk that social media poses to our younger generations is the best way to avoid it.
Not only can teens and kids be exposed to inappropriate content, such as violence, pornography, and hate speech, but they can be exposed to these things from people they know and people they do not.
Cyberbullying, harassment, or stalking by peers or strangers online is one of the biggest dangers of social media for youth, as are online predators who use social media, chat rooms, or gaming platforms to target kids for sexual exploitation or trafficking.
Many parents don’t even know when their kids are being cyberbullied, but the effects of cyberbullying can be traumatic and long-lasting and can even lead to teen suicide. It can cause anxiety, depression, and emotional distress which can impact their grades and quality of life.
Likewise, online predators can be just as threatening if not more as they can exploit kids and even stalk and kidnap them for insidious acts and trafficking. Not to mention, the psychological effects of social media use.
Another negative aspect of teens and kids being online is FOMO (fear of missing out): Social media can create a sense of pressure to always be “in the know” and to constantly compare oneself to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
Your teen also runs the risk of becoming addicted to social media use, leading to decreased productivity, anxiety, and even physical health problems.
Another unhealthy aspect of social media use among kids and even adults is unrealistic expectations. Social media can present an unrealistic view of life, leading teens to compare themselves to idealized images and feel inadequate or insecure.
The need to protect our teens and kids is imperative. So, let’s discuss internet safety and teens with these online teens safety tips:
Online Teens Safety Tips
In order to allow kids and teens to thrive online there are a few ways to ensure internet safety for teens. Guidelines, communication, monitoring, parental controls, and education are among the best ways to take control of how social media and Internet use affect your family.
Let’s take a close look at these ideas:
Setting clear guidelines and rules around internet use and social media, such as time limits, privacy settings, and consequences for violating rules can help you micromanage the dangers of social media and teens.
Keeping communication channels open with your kids can allow them to feel comfortable talking to you about any issues or concerns they may encounter online. Don’t just assume everything is okay.
Monitoring your child’s online activities and having access to their social media and gaming accounts can allow you to notice any red flags that your kid may not be experienced enough to detect. Of course, this one is controversial as it makes some kids feel like they can’t be trusted.
Be sure to explain to your teens that it’s not about whether you trust them, it’s about trusting their ability to know when someone is exploiting them, and it’s for their protection.
Using parental control software or apps to block inappropriate content and restrict access to certain websites or platforms can be a great way to avoid your kids feeling like you don’t trust them. There are apps in place to protect children on social media.
Teaching your child how to recognize and respond to online risks, such as not sharing personal information, reporting suspicious behavior, and using strong passwords can help them avoid the dangers of social media.
It’s important to remember that no system or strategy is foolproof when it comes to keeping kids safe online and internet safety for teens, but by staying vigilant and proactive, we can help reduce the risks and promote a safer online environment for them.
Beyond these safety tips for teens, it’s important to discuss internet safety for teens with regard to use and the healthy recommendations for use.
Internet Use for Kids and Teens
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and caregivers establish healthy media habits for children and adolescents, including setting limits on internet use. Here are some general guidelines for healthy internet use:
Children Under 2 Years of Age
For children under 18 months old, avoid digital media use, except for video chatting with family and friends.
For children aged 18 to 24 months, introduce high-quality educational media and limit screen time to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
Children Under 5 Years of Age
For children aged 2 to 5 years, limit screen time to a maximum of 1 hour per day of high-quality programs or apps, and co-view media with your child to help them understand what they’re watching.
Children Ages 6 and Older
For children aged 6 years and older, establish consistent limits on the time spent using media, as well as the types of media they can use. The AAP recommends no more than 2 hours of entertainment screen time per day, but ideally, screen time should be limited to specific times of day and not interfere with sleep, physical activity, and other important activities.
When it comes to internet safety for teens, the AAP recommends parents work with their teens to create a customized media plan that includes reasonable limits on internet use and prioritizes sleep, physical activity, and face-to-face social interactions.
When it comes to internet safety for teens and kids it’s important to remember that every child and teen is different, and parents should consider developmental stage, interests, and needs when setting guidelines around internet use.
Additionally, it’s important to monitor your kids’ online activities and adjust screen time limits as needed to ensure they are engaging in healthy behaviors and staying safe online. Educating them and keeping the lines of communication are vital to keeping kids safe in our modern digital landscape.
We all want the best for our kids. Just remember that what you see and what is really happening are not always the same. Don’t ignore that parenting comes with the challenges of blind optimism.