As parents, we all know that it’s important it is to have conversations with our teenagers about social media. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, and it can be difficult to get teens to talk openly about the subject.
To help you start the conversation, we’re sharing some ideas to make that all-important discussion with your child more productive.
Following these tips should help you become the go-to resource for them. The goal is that when they find themselves in uncomfortable situations, they’ll know they can turn to you.
Let’s get to it! Keep reading for seven smart tips to keep in mind as you talk to your kids about social media.
How to Talk to Teens About Social Media
1. Set the right tone
First things first–you’ll want to set the right tone. Stay calm, and avoid raising your voice or becoming overly emotional when talking about your teen’s social media use. And, choose the right time. Raise the subject when you both have time to talk and no one has to rush off to work, school, or activities.
2. Ask questions
Next, ask questions, rather than starting off with a lecture. Ask your child about the social media apps they’re using, and let them show you how these platforms work and how they use them. It’s a great way to get them engaged in the conversation and learn from their perspective.
3. Set a good example
Be a good role model. Share with your child how you use social media. By demonstrating healthy, positive behaviors, you can set a good example for them to follow.
4. Talk about positive and negative online behavior
It’s also important to talk about positive and negative online behavior. Discuss the differences with your teen(s) and emphasize the importance of empathy and kindness.
Remind them that these are important character traits when communicating online, as well as in person. Help them recognize bullying and other inappropriate behavior, so they can navigate social media in a safe and respectful way.
5. Keep calm
If you discover that your child has been using social media inappropriately or engaging in dangerous behavior online, it’s essential to stay calm. Instead of jumping to conclusions or getting angry, ask questions to to help you understand the situation, and then work together toward a solution.
6. Permanence and privacy
Two other crucial topics are permanence and privacy. Make sure your kids understand that what they post online, what they write, and the photos they share are all permanent. Talk about the potential future consequences of posting (or sending someone) something embarrassing or inappropriate.
Show them how to adjust their privacy settings to make sure their accounts are as secure as possible, so they’ll be less likely to be hacked.
7. Be their safe space
Lastly, remind your teenager that you’re always there for them. Let them know that you’ll support them, no matter what happens on social media. This reminder can be an important lifeline if they should ever feel they’ve gotten in over their head.
Talking to your teen about social media might not be your idea of fun (or theirs), but as you build trust, and become a safe space for them, the conversations will get easier. It’s well worth it to keep your child safe online!