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Teen Online Safety

How Social Media Is Emotionally Impacting Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 12, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Mental Health

The Effects of Social Media on Teens and How to Prevent Them

Help Your Teens PexelGirlOnlineCellPhone-195x300 How Social Media Is Emotionally Impacting Your Teen Social media was created to make people socialize virtually, and that has been possible to some extent. There are multiple other benefits of social media as well, but the question is do the pros outweigh the cons of social media.

If you aren’t wise enough, things can get worse while using social media platforms. Especially with teens, with a lot of free time and the lack of proper guidance, things can go south for them.

Impact of Social Media on Teens

Not Social

We all have heard of so-called “Social Media platforms,” but are they really social? Some people use social media purely for socializing, but not everyone has similar intentions. The internet is harsh, and people with bad intentions make social media not social at all. Social media doesn’t depict real human interaction and doesn’t help with the social skills of teens. People on the internet are narcissists and are there to promote themselves instead of caring about others.

Increased Teen Depression

Social Media has taken many teens with its toxicity. Different studies support the fact about social media causing depressive symptoms in teens or everyone in general.  A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found out increased loneliness and depression with the high usage of social media. It’s hard to handle the negativity, racism, body-shaming, and harassment going online. Cyberbullying and fake expectations that are way difficult to meet also contribute to added depression or anxiety in teens. 

Misinformation and Self-harm Content

Social Media being unregulated, carries tons of misinformation and harmful content. Although social media platforms have their guidelines and rules, people still find a way to spread harmful content. The misinformation has been on the internet for a long time, be it about fat loss, height gain, or even the COVID-19 vaccine. Teens are becoming vulnerable and trying to take their lives by getting addicted to the self-destructive content on the internet.

Avoiding adverse impacts of Social Media on Teens

Set Limit and Monitor the usage

Most of the social media problems are caused by the overuse and the addiction of the platforms. While spending more time on social media, we tend to forget the real world and get lost on the internet. A 2019 study suggests that people who spend more than three hours a day on social media might be more at risk of mental health problems. Now, most platforms also have a “your activity” feature where you can check the total time you’re spending there. It can help you keep track of your social media usage.

Encourage more face-to-face and live interactions

Like we said, social media isn’t social, so we encourage you to spend more time on live conversations. That way, you get to socialize and learn more from different people and perspectives. Having face-to-face interactions with people in real life helps you deal with loneliness and reduces the isolation factor from your life.

Follow people who inspire you more on Social Media

Now in the generation of the internet, everything is there at the tip of your finger. You could get the best out of social media by following influencers that inspire you. You can also use social media to learn, as ample pages share informative content that adds value to people’s lives.

The impacts of social media on teens can get horrific, but things can also get better if you get smart and monitor the usage. People have even lost lives due to social media, so be aware of its usage and negative impact.

Read about how removing your teens’ devices doesn’t always work.

Check out our parenting book – Raising Humans In A Digital World, helping you become a smarter digital parent.

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Is Your Teen Sexting?

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Sexting

Would you know if your teen was sexting?

Are they aware of the risks and consequences of sending or receiving a sexual message?

Help Your Teens TeenSexting_5-300x198 Is Your Teen Sexting? In a recent study by JAMA Pediatrics the sending of sexually explicit videos, images or messages via cell phone texts also known as sexting — has become more common among adolescents. It also revealed that as the teen gets older, engaging in sext messages increases.

As we have witnessed with medicine abuse and other substance use, many parents live in denial that their teen would participate in this activity. Today sexting is considered the new flirting and some youth are not aware of the risks or consequences (potentially legal ones) they can fall into.

Across the globe we have seen sexting scandals in schools, from Duxbury, Massachusetts to Canon City, Colorado to Nova Scotia, Canada – it can happen anywhere. In North Carolina a high school quarterback faced felony charges and a sex offender status when he and his girlfriend were exchanging nude photos.

The consequences of sexting also extend offline. When something that was intended to be a private communication ends up in public, the shame and humiliation can drive our kids to the point of self-destruction. Another consequence of sexting: Experts have found children and teens that sext are more likely to engage in real-world sexual activity  than students who don’t sext.

For generations, many parents have cringed at the thought of having the “birds and the bees” conversation. Today we have to open the door for the “sext talk” without hesitation as children are digitally connected for an average of 9 hours a day. The parents of  Jessica LoganHope WitsellAudrie Pott and Amanda Todd are sadly linked together by the aftermath of sexting and cyberbullying with the loss of their teens to bullycide.

It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children and teens with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. It’s their offline skills that will help them make better online decisions. Your teen may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom echoing in their ear when you’re not there – while making their digital choices.

The sext chat outline for parents to open the dialogue:

  1. Talk about it. Frequently and start early.  Stress the importance of safe sharing online. When your kids hear news of sext crime cases, initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults. Revenge porn is rising every day. It can happen to anyone at any age.
  2. Make it real. Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable.
  3. Address peer pressure. Give your kids a way out – blame it on us. Tell them to let their friends know that their parents monitor (and/or spot check) their phones and social media, and you can’t risk losing your devices.
  4. Discuss legal and online consequences. Depending on your state, there can be legal ramifications when you send sexual content or even participate in forwarding it. What goes online – stays online. This is your digital landscape.
  5. If you receive a sexual message, never engage in it or forward it. Tell your parent or trusted adult immediately. If necessary, contact the authorities or your school.
  6. Know that your parent is only a call away. Let your child know they can always come to you without judgment. These conversations are about building trust — our kids may always be an “app” ahead of us, but we will always be the adult in the family – lead by example and be there for them.

Has your teen been a victim of sextortion or revenge porn? Maybe involved in a sexting scandal? Know there is help and resources available:

Help Your Teens SNBookCoverBlue-200x300 Is Your Teen Sexting? Contributor: Sue Scheff is the founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts, Inc and has published three books. Her latest is Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017).

 

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Teen Online Dating: Digital Love

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 05, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

Teen Online Dating

Should teens be looking for love online? Should they be on sites such as Tinder or Match?

Age restrictions on these sites are in place for a reason, however we know that many teenagers will find a way around them if they want to bad enough. It’s not any different then tweens joining social media platforms designed strictly for ages 13 and older.

Help Your Teens LoveisRespect-300x122 Teen Online Dating: Digital Love Love Is Respect offers advice, resources and tips for parents, teachers and teens.

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship, both in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out the tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others.

  • Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
  • Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
  • Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
  • You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
  • Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.

Abuse or Harassment

  • Don’t respond to harassing, abusive or inappropriate comments. It won’t make the person stop and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger.
  • Keep a record of all harassing messages, posts and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a restraining order.
  • Always report inappropriate behavior to the site administrators.

Help Your Teens Heartbroke Teen Online Dating: Digital Love Leaving an Abusive Relationship

  • If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship, start by blocking your ex on Facebook and other social networking pages. We recommend you don’t check-in on foursquare or other location-based sites or apps — you don’t want your ex or their friends tracking your movements.
  • Adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information that particular people can see on your page. Privacy settings on sites like Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. Remember, registering for some apps require you to change your privacy settings.
  • Avoid posting private details on your friend’s pages. They may not have appropriate settings and doing so may allow someone to see your movements and location. The same goes for tagging yourself in pictures.
  • Consider what is called a “super-logoff” — deactivating your Facebook account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on. This way, no one can post on your wall, tag you or see your content when you’re offline, but you still have all of your friends, wall posts, photos, etc. when you log back on.
  • While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme, disabling you social networking page entirely may be your best option to stop continued abuse or harassment.

Your Friends’ Safety

If your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, be careful what you post about them. Pictures, locations, check-ins and even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them. If you’re unsure of what’s ok to post, get your friend’s permission before you click “Share.”

Source: Love Is Respect

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5 Ways to Protect Your Teenager Online

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 14, 2015  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens

Teen Online Safety

Help Your Teens TeenOnlineSafety-300x203 5 Ways to Protect Your Teenager Online An astonishing 75 percent of teenagers have access to smartphones and 24 percent of teens go online “almost constantly.” As a parent of a teenager in this constantly evolving cyber world, it’s overwhelming and frightening thinking of all the potential threats compromising your teens digital and physical security.

A Pew Research study found that 90 percent of children have witnessed or experienced cyber bullying within the last year and a study by Drexel University found that 54 percent of minors have reported sexting.

Here are five ways to protect your teenager online:

Take Advantage of Smartphone Applications

There are a variety of free and paid applications that provide parents with a wide range of access to their teenager’s mobile phone activity.

If you’re concerned about your teen stumbling upon adult content, K9 Browser is a free application that blocks adult content and is available for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. For more thorough access to your teen’s activity, the Norton Family Parental Control application’s paid version allows parents to see the sites their teen is visiting from the computer or mobile device but also allows you to block sites and see text messages.

Create a Contract

Before your teenager receives their first mobile device or personal computer, create a contract spelling out each of your expectations. According to the Family Online Safety Institute, almost 50 percent of teenagers are not concerned that their online reputation today will hurt future goals and 58 percent feel it is safe to post photos or intimate details online. A written and signed contract makes it very clear to your teenager what your expectations are in regard to online activity.

Stay Informed & Up-to-date

Setting up guidelines, boundaries and privacy software is not enough. The Internet and cyber criminals are changing so fast that as soon as you have a grasp on the newest social media or application and its potential threats or privacy terms, it has already evolved. To stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news and tips, bookmark LifeLock Unlocked.

Mark All Profiles as Private

The most important takeaway for your teenager, is that nothing is temporary online. Even if they delete a post, a photo or an account, it can be easily retrieved and anyone can copy or save it. Besides filtering what he or she posts, ensure your teenager’s online profiles are private. Do not rely on the site’s default settings and adjust settings accordingly. Stress to your teen that this does not mean what he or she posts is now “safe” but it does make it more difficult for individuals to access.

Safeguards Passwords & Change Them Frequently

Identity theft is just as much of a threat for your teenager as it is for adults. Teach your teen how to choose safe and secure passwords that are changed every three to six months to ensure maximum security. Advise your teen not to share passwords with anyone besides parents or guardians.

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