Undoubtedly, the internet has created new ways for us to communicate and be connected. Thanks to today’s technology, our teenagers have an opportunity to gain media literacy, become technically savvy, socialize, and be connected to their peers all over the world. However, this increased use of the internet and today’s technology among teens comes with a prize. Cyberbullying and online gossip on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace, as well as through instant messaging, chat rooms, and emails are becoming a growing and common problem. Many parents of my teen clients share with me that their children have at some point been bullied or taken advantage of on social media. In fact, the FBI reports that by the age of 14, 77% of teens have been contacted by a predator online, 12% of teenage girls admitted to eventually meeting strangers they first met online in person, and chat room strangers have been implicated in nearly 20% of cases of missing teens each year. Thus, teaching teens online safety is crucial.
According to recent research studies, social media has had a profound effect on how children and adolescents interact. While there are many benefits to the use of social media, cyberbullying has emerged as a potential harm, raising questions regarding its influence on mental health. Specifically, there is a consistent relationship across studies between cyberbullying and depression among children and adolescents (1) Other concerns regarding social media typically entail the amount of time teens actually spend online. In addition to a growing safety concern, research shows a significant correlation between elevated social media use, low self-esteem, and high level of depression symptoms in teens. (2)
Interestingly, research also show that adolescents who perceived lower levels of parental attachment were more likely to experience Internet addiction, cyberbullying, smoking, and depression, while adolescents who reported higher levels of parental restrictive mediation were less likely to experience Internet addiction or to engage in cyberbullying. Adolescent Internet addiction was associated with cyberbullying victimization/perpetration, smoking, consumption of alcohol, and depression. (3)
In addition, excessive Internet and social media use or Internet addiction is associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders, especially affective disorders (including depression), anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (4) Furthermore, the current research findings suggest that adolescents with excessive internet use or addiction seem to have more aggressive dispositions than others. (5)
So, what can you as a parent or a caregiver do to teach your child Internet safety and boundaries.
1.Talk to your teen – Make sure your teen understands that although the internet can be used for many amazing purposes, it is sometimes used to hurt others. Explain to them what they need to be careful about:
2. Establish rules: Use “Online Safety Rules for Kids” by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as example
3. Stay informed: use a monitoring program such as the one offered by Netnanny to track your teen’s activity online and on social media. For more information about safety on the internet and social media, you can go to www.netsmartz.org.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are dealing with any of these issues with your teenager and need further help. You can contact me by clicking here.
All questions and comments are always welcomed. Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up below to stay in touch and not to miss my new posts.
With well wishes,
Enter your email to get my latest content.
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.