Help your teen navigate through the social media jungle

It’s a jungle out there. Teens use a forest of apps and move fearlessly among them. We may struggle to keep up but we’re often far behind. What are our teens using, how are they using it, and what should cause concern?

The share-it-all generation

Teens have no problem sharing information on the Internet. Yet that information can be misused, and cause a number of problems. While social media opens up connections to a wide range of people and information, it can also expose your teen to inappropriate sights, manipulative users, and targeting. Security settings are often lax or open ended, allowing lots of unwanted information to come to your teen’s attention and to share information they may not want shared.

A safe connection

You can help provide a positive connection to the benefits the Internet offers by working with your teen to set up some sensible parameters.

Check your teen’s connections, feeds, and follows. Look at your teen’s profile and see how secure it is. Settings can be modified or disabled.

Teach your kids to use good etiquette when using social media and to govern what they share. Bullying is just wrong, as is being pressured into sharing an inappropriate image with others.

Look at the ads coming to the attention of your teen. This is the way lots of apps make money.

Nothing is truly temporary no matter what our teens say. Make sure your child knows the implications of what they share.

Privacy is in short supply on the Internet. Teach your teen to not assume any conversation or image they post is confidential.

Anonymity sometimes breeds cruelty. Be on the lookout for signs of trouble that would indicate your child is being bullied. Things like change of behavior, loss of interest in activities or studies in which they were involved. Don't assume that just because they haven’t mentioned it that it is not a problem.

Here are some tips for good cell phone use:

·      Only respond to phone numbers you know

·      Don't send or forward mean or inappropriate photos

·      Ask before taking and sharing someone’s picture

·      Get permission before downloading something

·      Always update privacy settings after downloading apps

·      Limit location sharing

·      Follow school cell phone rules

·      Never text and drive