A study conducted in the US in 2018 showed that 45% of teens surveyed check their social media constantly. Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat are three of the most frequently visited online platforms in the world. In our ubiquitous digital world, these mediums become the platform for us to communicate and stay in touch with family and friends. The world wide web has also become extremely popular for online gaming and blogging. The internet can offer wonderfully supportive online communities that encourage exposure to unique ideas and perspectives. This also makes it imperative to sensitize your teenager to cyber wellness.
When dealing with teenagers, it is essential that parents strike a delicate balance between parental supervision and teen independence. Teenagers can then learn the skills they need to navigate the captivating yet unpredictable digital world with parents providing them with supportive networks. Here are some tips for parents to ensure that teenagers are practicing cyber wellness.
10 Tips to Ensure Your Teen’s Cyber Wellness:
1. Monitor what your Teen has access to and how much time they spend online.
You can speak to your internet service provider about plans that are best suited for your family. You can also establish rules beforehand about how long your child can spend online each day. It is essential that these rules are laid out in advance and not in response to an online transgression.
2. Develop a Healthy Dialogue with your kids about online safety.
Speak to them about the importance of being safe online. You can use stories from the news or their own experiences as teachable moments to broach sensitive topics. You would also want to discuss topics such as sexting, pornography and cyber-bullying so that they are well aware of the impact and consequences of each of these.
If they are discussing this with you in an open and honest way, chances are they will be less likely to turn to the web to get answers to their questions on relationships and sexuality. Teens are very inquisitive about these topics at this age and it is important to establish a precedent where your kids know they can come to you with these questions.
3. Keep Up to Date on the latest apps, social media trends and platforms that your teen likes to use.
This will enable you to be more watchful of their activities online and you can be more mindful of the potential dangers of the apps.
4. Speak to them about Privacy Settings, Personal Information and Online Purchases.
Advise them to never share their name, date of birth, phone number or address online. You can also discuss the privacy settings of their Facebook and Instagram accounts and encourage them to only add people that they know to their friends’ list. If they are making purchases online, urge them to use reliable websites that have reviews from other customers.
5. Model Appropriate Behaviour Online.
Teenagers do not appreciate the age-old adage of “do as I say not as I do”. They are going to be following your every move. Model behaviour that is appropriate and similar to how you would want your child to behave online. For instance, stick to a time limit you have agreed on when surfing the net.
6. Encourage them to be Responsible and Respectful online.
Kids sometimes say things online that they may not say face to face. Online anonymity gives them a free rein to say things that may be disrespectful or mean. Speak to them about being responsible and compassionate users.
7. Positive digital footprint.
A positive digital footprint is the “footprint” we leave behind when we post or share content online. Kids don’t realize that something that they write or post online can be up there forever. So it is essential that they are prudent about the type of content they are putting up.
8. Show that you Trust them.
Establish an environment of non-judgement and trust in your home. Speak to your teen about the importance of being safe and accessing content that is appropriate. Allow them to explore the digital world in the safe environs of your home.
9. Establish Rules about Internet Use for Everyone in the Family.
For instance, you can designate certain areas in your house to be screen free and zones- this will discourage them from using their devices late at night in their room where supervision is limited. Screen-safe zones are areas where your teen can access the internet. These can be areas in your house that are common to everyone.
10. Downloading Content from the Internet.
Teens need to be aware of the possible implications of downloading content such as movies or music illegally. Speak to them about accessing this content in safe and secure ways.
Cyber wellness is closely linked to overall wellness, with both affecting each other, much like most forms of wellness are. Connect with your child to ensure his/hers and your wellness!
Post Contributed By: Liz Cyriac. Liz is a counselling psychologist. She briefly worked with us and did therapy with children, adolescents and young adults.