Become knowledgeable about the apps your child is using. Are there security measures in place on the app itself? Who are they talking to? What kind of information is shared? Is this information really secure? At the bottom of the page there are some links providing information about privacy and dangerous apps that most teenagers use on a regular basis. Some apps don't even have any privacy settings and information can be shared with anyone in the world. There are even some apps that can hide apps they might be using from parents.
After becoming educated, it is your job as parents to ask questions and to be as involved as possible with your youth. This can only be done if you obtain all of the passwords and regularly check social media accounts and/or text messages. Most parents wonder, isn’t this invading their privacy? Well, yes, but your job as a parent is safety first. It may be an incredibly uncomfortable discussion and create an unwanted battle but it is within your right as a parent to make these necessary changes for safety. It's better to have a teenager because we're invading their privacy then have something else happen.
It is also recommended that parents ask who each and every one of their child’s ‘friends’ are that follow them and interact with them regularly on social media. Anyone who is not a reasonable ‘friend’ can be deleted and removed for added safety. I’m finding a lot of teenagers friend strangers just because they are “hot” and/or live in the same area as them. We don't know these people, and who knows, they may be perfectly nice and appropriate, but sometimes it's better to not take that chance.
Now how do we monitor all of these devices? It is so easy with phones that have internets and lap tops for a teenager to just spend all their time locked up in their rooms. It is ok for your children to own all these devices, but it is also ok to place restrictions on them. For example, lap tops must be used in an open and well-used area. Most teenagers are not going to do something unsafe or inappropriate if they are being watched.
It is also important to put a time limit on these devices so they are not spending all of their free time locked to a screen or staying up late into the night. Content blockers and internet safety devices also exist for added measure if your teenager cannot be supervised at all times.
Lastly, educate your children about the kind of material they are posting and where this information goes. Most teenagers do not actually know their material is public to the world. Teach them how to privatize their social media pages. Teach about what material is appropriate or inappropriate and how to attract a more positive audience and avoid things such as cyber bullying due to post content.
These are all very personal rules and restrictions. This information should be talked over as a family and agreed upon first so parents are on the same page together. Not all of these rules might be needed or appropriate for your family, but these are just some of the things that come up most in my family sessions working at the hospital. Just know that you are the parent, you are in control and safety always comes first.
Five Ways Parents Can Fight Facebook Depression
Internet Safety Tips - National Child Advocacy Center
Internet Safety Statistics - Enough is Enough
Social Media App Information - Family Education
9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids - Crosswalk