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14 Tips: Social Media Advice for Parents, From Parents

Your Teen asked you, the parents, to share your expertise from the trenches: What have you learned about your teenager and social networking that surprised you and what advice would you give other parents?

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  1. Some teens have two pages on one social networking site—one they show you and one they don’t.
  2. There are numerous security settings inside a single page. So certain areas of the page can be made accessible to some “friends” but not others.
  3. Joining the same social network as your teen can act as a deterrent to risky behavior, because they really don’t want you to see inappropriate photos of them or their friends, but it can also drive your teen to a different platform if you overdo it.
  4. When teens tell you they need to be on social media for school, they are probably telling the truth. Teams, clubs, and even classes use different platforms now.
  5. Forbidding teens from joining social networks forces them underground. Not recommended!
  6. Teens can become addicted to social networking. The symptoms mirror those of other addictions and can be very harmful.
  7. Teens join all sorts of social network “groups” that connect them to others. Stay informed about which groups your teen has joined. This might tell you a lot about what he is thinking and doing.
  8. There is peer pressure to accept an invitation to become someone’s friend, even if you don’t want to.
  9. Young teens are friending their older sibling’s friends and vice versa. This enables younger siblings to access more mature (or sometimes more immature!) communication threads and photos.
  10. Teens who are overly involved in others’ online activities and seem to know everything about everyone’s profiles are labeled with the derogatory term stalkers and may need help understanding social networking etiquette.
  11. Your teen can block other users. This is recommended when they are friend-requested by a stranger, or when someone they previously friended starts acting inappropriately or makes them uncomfortable.
  12. Potential summer internship and job employers, college admissions counselors and recruiters, law enforcement officers and school officials are seeking access to young adults’ profiles with increasing frequency.
  13. Having 24/7 access is hard. Try to encourage time away from it all. And the best way to do that is to model it yourself.
  14. Best advice parents can give teens? Only post information and photos that you’d be willing to share with Grandma or your school principal.
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