Therapy in Chester, NJ
Is your son or daughter texting more than speaking?
Are you concerned with what apps they are downloading?
You are not alone.
Even though many parents pay for their child's cell phone bill, they often do not know what the phone is being used for. While there are numerous benefits to applications available on phones, there are also dangers to using certain apps that teens are not aware of. Adolescents have a difficult time understanding the dangers of cell phones and social media.
Wondering what can you do as a parent? Your first thought might be to take the cell phone away or cut off screen time. This is a typical first thought but not always the answer. Here are some tips on ways to increase your son or daughter's safety when using social media.
· Educate yourself.
o Call your cellphone provider. You may find that you can do more to control the usage of the cell phone than you thought. Question the current internet usage of your adolescent compared to your own. Is it more than 15 hours of the day? During school hours? Ask if you can block Internet usage during certain hours of the day. If your teen has an IPhone, go to the local Apple store. Ask how to block certain applications or increase safety by turning the location off.
o Attend local programs offered by your school district or town. Learning with other parents and getting information from professionals is very useful. Being around other parents going through something similar gives a sense of support and knowing you are not alone does help.
· Educate your son or daughter.
o Once you have educated yourself you are better able to educate your son or daughter. You may have learned that having their location turned on makes it easier for strangers and predators to find them. Are they posting on Instagram? Not private? Adding a location? If so, a stranger can view the picture, click on the location, get easy directions, and be at the scene within seconds. Give them this information. See what else you can teach them.
· Have a conversation.
o Ask questions. See what they are using their phone for. Ask to look at their Instagram or Twitter account. Ask if they have any additional accounts such as a "Finsta", which is an additional Instagram account created to be followed only by close friends with more personal information.
o Asking questions and viewing their content may seem like a violation of privacy but it does not have to be. Be respectful of their space but share your concerns and why it is importation you see what they are posting.
· Get involved and stay active.
o Create your own accounts. Staying current will help you connect with your teen, get some of the benefits associated with the apps, and be able to speak the Lingo they are using. You may insist on following your son or daughter's accounts, you may just use it to connect with your own friends. Either way, the best way to understand social media is to be on it yourself. Ask your teen to help you set up the account or show you new ways to use it. Show them your pictures and content and they may do the same without even being asked.
Social Media does not need to be a foreign idea to you. Never stop communicating with your teen, always encourage open communication, and be patient. Gain trust over family dinners or car rides. Show that you care by bringing up some of your fears and questions. A simple conversation can make a great difference.
If you are looking for a professional to work through these challenges with your son or daughter we are here to help. Make an appointment today with Carly Herschman, LSW who is one of our Children/Teens Specialists and has helped many parents and teens resolve some of their conflicts over social media.
Carly Herschman, LSW