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Raising a teenager is no picnic! On the one hand, you want to respect boundaries and give your growing child the freedom to make—and learn from—their own mistakes. On the other hand, you want to do everything in your power to protect your child … well, everything. When it comes to online safety, social media has its’ own unique set of problems for teenagers… and it can go far beyond the online predator horror stories. That’s why it’s essential as a parent to be involved with your teens’ use of social media.

Open communication:

Parents who openly communicate with their children are more likely to receive the same approach in response. It is critical that your teenager feels safe in talking to you because the fear of punishment can result in isolated or rebellious behaviour. During the awkward teenage years, your child will want to test boundaries. They will want to do and say things that you would not approve of. This is fundamental human nature. You must understand and respect this while letting them know they can talk to you about anything.

Practical privacy:

Keep computers in a “public” location, rather than in their bedroom. At your discretion, it may be a good idea to routinely check computer and phone history and require that you know the passwords to all of your teen’s accounts… but keep in mind that infringing on their right to privacy may only push them further away.

Establish boundaries:

Boundaries, rules, and guidelines can be applied to behaviours that are allowed on social media… as well as the amount of time allowed to spend on social media. Teenagers with smart phones tend to be more interested in the cyber world and oblivious to the real world around them, but as a parent, you can set the rules to prevent this from happening.

Stay informed of the threats:

Internet safety is about so much more than online predators or identity theft. Teenagers are not the only vulnerable internet users.

Even parents can make mistakes on social media! Did you know that you should never brag about an upcoming vacation, and when you take a vacation, you should wait until you return home to post pictures?

It helps to know the tricks and trends because the more likely online threats are much more common—such as falling victim to a spambot.