Keeping teens safe on social media

  • News
  • 06/10/2016
  • Guest blogger

Here at the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, our aim is to provide a multistakeholder platform showcasing a range of viewpoints and experiences on keeping children and young people safe online. As such, we welcome guest blog posts on our areas of focus. We were recently contacted by TechieJB, a blogger on social media, cyber security, and online privacy, who shared with us her views on keeping teens safe on social media.

In today's tech-driven world, it's almost impossible to stop teens or young adults (aged 13 to 19) from being exposed to technology, as schools have strongly adopted mobile devices and the internet. But a growing number of parents remain concerned about the safety of their teens while using technology and social media. A study on said that 33 per cent of parents have had questions about their child's safety online.
In separate research, it has been found that exposure to social media has resulted in negative effects on teen's mental health. The Telegraph reported that excessive usage of social media (more than three hours a day) can lead to poor emotional and social development in most children.
With plenty of concerns and even health risks, how can parents keep their teens safe on social media? Read on to find out.
Family talk
Take an opportunity to bond as a family by openly discussing social media usage at home. Inform your teens of your concerns about their heavy exposure on social platforms, and, likewise, listen to what they have to say. Start by sharing a bit about your daily usage to facilitate a conversation regarding their online habits. Then, get them to talk about their social media activity if you can. Do not force the topic or even access their social media without their approval. Let it happen naturally in its own time. The key ingredients here are communication and trust. Talk often about each other's day and keep the trust between you and your teen.
Set limitations
Even though there's trust, there should still be limitations as to where and when they can access social media. Setting limitations will allow you to easily monitor their usage, preventing them from spending too much time on social pages, which can affect their performance in school. Here are some effective ways on how you can set limitations with your children:
  • Monitor their usage with their approval daily.
  • Set time limits for internet and mobile device usage.
  • Check chat logs and social networking profiles (but make them aware you are doing this).
  • Discuss posts they've liked or shared.
  • Set parental control apps on their mobile devices (after discussing its purpose with them).
Tech parental control
While you must respect the privacy of your teen, it is still your responsibility to ensure they are safe. One way of doing this is by installing or activating tech parental control features on their mobile devices. Some smartphones come with advanced security features on the operating system itself, such as iOS 10 with its file encryption, privacy and ad settings, and data access limitation. One mobile operator said that the new iOS is the reason why there's nothing like the new iPhone on the market currently. For those devices without advanced security features, there are parental control apps that you can install on your teen's devices that are effective in reviewing and banning inappropriate websites and files.
Be a good example
Based on the same study on, parents may themselves be setting a negative example when it comes to using social media. "Our findings suggest parents are worried about their children's use of technology, which makes it interesting that their own use of it has so much influence on their children," said Judith Ramsay, author of the study. To keep them safe, show them how to securely and safely use social media on your own profile. If you've set limitations and rules for them, make sure you are also following them. Remember that you are their role model, so always set a proper example.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, European Schoolnet (EUN), the European Commission (EC) or any related organisations or parties.
About the author of this article:
TechieJB has been blogging about social media, cyber security, and online privacy for many years. Raising two active and smart children at home, she ensures that they are always safe when using the internet and when communicating in cyber space. She hopes to raise more awareness about the increasing problem of internet crimes, cyber bullying and other tech-related problems that affect modern children.
If you would like to contribute a guest blog post to the BIK portal, find out more at

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