The rise in social media and internet usage in this digital age is largely responsible for the increasing cyber presence of 21st-century teens. While this may help them improve their social skills and creativity by way of content creation – skits and DIY video making amongst others – Gen Z as fondly called are exposed to cyberbullying, inappropriate content, unhealthy trends, and cyber predators, all of which may take a toll on their emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. This also means parenting teenagers in this century is double the work.
Nevertheless, below are some healthy tips and guidelines for parents to guide and protect their children.
HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH YOUR TEENAGER.
It is important to have discussions with your teens. Conversations bordering on the need and ways to skip unhealthy video trends as well as the importance of self-education for personal edification in the social space. Let them know what issues they may encounter in cyberspace ranging from pressure, and cyberbullying before creating an active account.
Contents posted on social media can remain on the internet forever even when it has a limited duration of display time on the chosen app with potential future implications. Other users who view with an ulterior motive can easily make a screenshot and archive its content as a material to blackmail the user. Hence, teens should be guided as to what they post on the net.
CHECK IN WITH THEM REGULARLY.
The discussion shouldn’t end there with a one-time conversation. Ensure that you regularly check in with them after they must have created the account to follow up on their activities. Also, have them open up to you about experiences they may have had to be in cyberspace. In view of this, it is important for parents to have the password to the social media account of their teens.
MONITOR THEIR ACTIVITIES.
Ensure that their social media accounts are set to private mode. This restricts public view while ensuring that their profile is accessible. For a social media app like Tiktok, the digital well-being mode is helpful in notifying users of the amount of time they have spent on the social media platform. This can help measure how much of their time is being used there while also serving as motivation to do something creative and productive.
SENSITIZE THEM ABOUT CYBER SECURITY.
They need to be mindful of how much information they give about themselves while interacting with virtual friends. Information such as their location and account details are meant to be kept discreet. To withhold this type of information, the location option of their social media accounts should be disabled.
CYBERSPACE IS NOT AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF REALITY.
This cannot be overemphasized when discussing internet-related issues with your teenager. Social media sometimes presents an idealized version of individuals thereby distorting reality and resulting in low self-esteem for some users. Teenagers should be made to understand that not all they see on social media is real. As such, they should not be intimidated or pressured by it. They should also be directed to sites to abstain from.
Understand that you can not go wrong with an open conversation with your kids. Especially about the use of digital devices and cyberspace. Help them create boundaries around these tools and watch them use them to their own advantage. Helping them find ways to fully and positively express themselves if they’re struggling is also a surefire way to set them on a good path without restricting or encroaching on their personal space and boundaries.
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