Monday, October 11, 2010

A Parent’s Guide To Social Networking

By Adair Parr, M.D.

If you are like most parents, your teenager knows more about social networking than you do. According to a Pew Internet Project study, nearly three-quarters of teens online use social networking sites. What’s more, many teenagers now access social networking through cell phones, further increasing their online presence. The phenomenal rise of Facebook is documented in the movie, The Social Network, which was number one at the box office this past weekend.

Are your teenagers on Facebook? Are you wondering where to draw the line? Many parents feel overwhelmed by understanding media and technology and feel that they will never catch up to their kids. While you may not text as fast as they do, making an effort to learn about social networking is important. Teens are designed to experiment with risky behavior and social networking is one area in which they may try such behaviors. By educating yourself on the topic, you will be better prepared as a parent to help your child to use media and social networking responsibly.

What can you do to help ensure your teen’s responsible use of social networking?
  1. Talk to your kids about the media in their life. Ask your teen how social networking changes lives.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. Know who they are communicating with online.
  3. Remind your teenager to limit the amount of personal information online.
  4. Remember that everything your teenager posts is public information. Once it is posted, it is online forever.
  5. Educate your teenager about cyberbullying and what to do if he or she is a victim of cyberbullying.
  6. Model responsible media use behavior for your teenager.
The Healthy Minds website has additional information about mental health for college-age students and children. Check out these resources to help parents navigate the murky waters of social media:

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