Teens & Screens Part 1: Raising Smart Cyber-Citizens in Social Media


The following is the first in a three-part series on how to help safely navigate the world of social media with your kids from
Sue Scheff, a mother, author, parent advocate, and expert in internet safety education.

teens and social mediaDo you consider yourself a savvy digital parent? While your kids are away at camp during the summer, it can be a great time to get caught up on learning about the cyber-lives of youth today. The more you know, the more you can better communicate with your kids regarding their digital lives.

The results of a recent 2014 study by McAfee titled, Teens and Screens, should be a wake-up call for parents. Some of the staggering findings include:

  • 59% of tweens and teens engage with strangers online
  • Cyberbullying has tripled, yet 24% of the respondents admitted they don’t know what to do in the event of online abuse
  • Tweens and teens are still over-sharing their personal information, with 14% admitting posting their home address

Exactly what do you know about your child’s online life? Most know about cyber-safety 101:

  • Limiting screen time
  • Telling kids to never give out passwords
  • Parental settings/controls and monitoring kids’ and teens’ social media activity
  • Being kind online – explaining to your kids to think before they post
  • and other common cyber-security issues

This is all very important, but let’s look at some issues you may not have considered.

Some virtual friends are actually strangers.

At camp your child is meeting many new friends and people.  They will be expanding their social networking circles and it is fun learning about new people and their lives.

What your child needs to understand is that there are restrictions.  When they come home from camp and jump on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites to add their new friends—that it should be limited only their real friends from camp.

What does this mean?

Many kids can get distracted into friending or adding people that are friends of friends—and before they know it they are connected to hundreds of people they don’t really know and have never met.  Why is this not a good idea?