Social Networks and Teens: A Parent's Guide

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Social networks like Facebook have become so much a part of our culture that our teens may find it hard to believe that there was a time before the internet. As in all spheres of social life, there’s are dangers inherent in participating in social networking. Here is a guide to ensuring that your students stay safe on social networks.

Privacy and Trust

Don’t be offended if your teen rejects your friend request. Reading their social network sites is just like listening in on their phone conversations, reading their texts or peeking in their diaries. While students are entitled to a modicum of privacy and trust, you still have a responsibility to protect them. The internet provides a certain anonymity that means that people posing as their friends will have access to all their personal information.

Social networking sites are inevitable and crucial for the modern teen to effectively communicate with their friends. Sharing photos and videos inspires creativity and written communications improve their writing skills. Since your teen is going to be participating, it’s best to outline rules and guidelines to help them to safely navigate social networking sites.

Rules and Guidelines

Talk about which sites your students can belong to and set up your own account so you can familiarize yourself with the way in which the site works. Help your student to set up the site (make sure that they are old enough to comply with the site’s age restrictions) and show them how the privacy settings work. Explain carefully to them why the privacy settings are important and regularly check that they have not been changed.

Make it a rule that your student doesn’t friend anyone that they haven’t already met in person and don’t know. You can even get younger students to check with you before they accept a friend request. Ensure that photos posted to ensure that they are appropriate and don’t reveal any information that could tell someone which school they attend or where they live.

Regularly Google your students to see what pictures and information are out there. Sometimes their friends may post personal information or pictures that you may not want online. Be vigilant and ask your student to show you what they have been up to online.

It is your responsibility to monitor the sites your students use and the information that they post. Set up guidelines and rules for internet use and be sure to discuss the consequences of posting inappropriate information or pictures. Discuss cyber bullying and how they should react if they receive any messages or posts that are offensive or hurtful. Ask the school for their policy on social bullying and discuss this with your student too.

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