The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a Common Sense Media poll estimates that 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day. Additionally, half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. With stats like those, guidelines and rules should be set in place to ensure the safety of your teen. In addition to normal teen obstacles such as peer pressure and fitting in, teens now are faced with cyberbullying, sexting and difficulty managing their time.
Ground Rules and Guidelines
When it comes to social media such as Facebook, it is important to establish guidelines and rules first. That way there is no room for arguments, and the expectations are clear. K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky, authors of "Facebook and Your Marriage," as well as the experts at Common Sense Media, suggest several mandatory guidelines be set forth. In addition to Facebook’s rules of being 13 years of age to join, parents must always have the password and be full access friends. That way they can monitor their child’s activity at all times. Keep the profile private and only “friend” real people. This ensures that no one who doesn’t know your teen can see their status updates, pictures or friends. Make sure they know not to post their phone numbers or addresses. Encourage them to think before posting, as their posts will be read and archived for all of their friends list to see.
There are several potential dangers for teens on Facebook. Cyberbullying has become a major issue among kids, and social media is a key player. According to child development experts at the Kids Health website, a 2006 poll from the national organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids found that 1 in 3 teens and 1 in 6 preteens have been the victims of cyber bullying. This means a creating an update or private message that is mean, or posting personal information, photos, or videos that can damages one’s reputation or hurt them. WebWiseKids.org states that an astonishing 55 percent of teens have given out personal info to someone they don’t know, including pictures, and 29 percent have been stalked or contacted by a stranger. Fifty-six percent have been harassed and 24 percent have had private or embarrassing information made public. Teens need to learn how to protect their online reputation and personal safety.
Parents Need to Stay Current
With social media and Facebook changing and growing so rapidly, it is important for parents to remain up to date and educated as to what is new. The AAP has issued a new clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families," and Gwenn O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP, co-author of the clinical report, states that in order for parents to comfortably parent in a social media-driven world, they need to understand the technology. Understanding how to use Facebook and guiding your child can help her learn to set appropriate limits.
Kids today spend a lot more time in front of some kind of screen than their parents likely did growing up. Whether it be a television, computer or phone, the AAP states that the average is about seven hours per day. So much time in front of the screen can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity, not to mention the inherit safety risks. The AAP suggests making screen-free zones, where there is no access to any kind of entertainment media. Instead kids should be outside, reading, doing hobbies, playing sports or interacting with peers and family.