Sunday, October 17, 2021

What to know about social media safety

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Social media has grown into a key outlet for young people, who use it to explore, shop, share ideas and express themselves. But these sites can become a black hole when the pull of sexting, cyberbullying and over-sharing are too strong.

Our latest national survey—which quizzed almost 1,000 parents about their children’s online use—revealed that:

45% of teens and young adults check social media every day or almost every day.

34% of parents use the Internet to monitor their child’s online activity.

93% of parents say social media can be a good thing for teens, but 46% also worry about cyberbullying, sexting and other risks associated with the medium.

But how can parents help their kids make smart choices about social media? Here are a few things you can do to keep your kids safe on social media:

Be a role model

Teens and young adults look to parents for guidance on the dangers of using social media, and use their memories of our own days online to shape their own practices. At The Atlantic, we work hard to educate our audience about how social media can be used in positive ways, but are quick to point out when it can lead down a dangerous path. It’s not enough to simply monitor posts and messages, we think parents need to play an active role. Our guide, “How to Talk to Your Teen About Social Media,” helps parents guide their teens through discussions about safety issues, together.

Set boundaries

There’s no magic date in social media safety, but setting specific rules—whether that’s blocking specific accounts, offering one-on-one help with privacy settings or getting involved with the issues discussed above—makes for a good foundation for help together. Start by making your own rules, then discuss those rules with your kids. Use a common language; make sure they understand why you’re enforcing it and why it’s important for them to play by it.

Be accessible

Too often, we forget how reliant our kids are on technology and social media. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter at dinner, you’re likely reading, writing or watching something online. You want to be open and accessible online to your kids—but also want to take a firm stance in situations when you feel need to make a difference, without reprimanding or worrying about their feelings.

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