Talk to Your Teen About Disturbing Online Content
Think you’re the only one worrying about your child stumbling into something inappropriate online? Surprise, it turns out that teens, not just their parents, also worry about seeing disturbing content. In a new study of almost 1,700 teens, more than 75% expressed their wish that social media sites would do a better job of protecting them from a wide variety of disturbing content and exchanges. Among their biggest complaints? Seeing pornography, cyberbullying, self-harm and hateful comments and interactions. Kids also voiced their opinions about the worst-offenders when it comes to specific networks. What topped their list? Facebook, Omegle and ASKfm. Kids also listed IMVU, an avatar-based social game which also provided the technology behind Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji app.
Resist the Urge to Ban Social Media
When it comes to punishing kids, parents often resort to denying kids what they value most: Their phone. However new research reveals that banning kids from their social networks can seriously backfire on mom and dad. In a study carried out by the University of Chicago’s independent research organization, NORC in partnership with the Associated Press, more than 700 teens talked about the impact of being banned from Snapchat, Instagram and the like. Not surprisingly, more than a third of teens reported feeling anxious when restricted from their social networks. And when the ban was over? Teens tended to increase the amount of time and number of posts than prior to the punishment.
Encourage a Self-Imposed Social Media Break
Perhaps one of the most compelling ways to help teens manage themselves online is to understand the importance of self-imposed social media breaks. When teens opt for a fast themselves, they not only didn’t experience Facebook FOMO but even reported feeling “relieved” about the break, adding that it helped them better connect to non-virtual people.
What bothers teens most about social media? Boys felt like there was too much to read on social media. Girls felt like they always had to be their best. Both felt overwhelmed. When teens did take breaks however, boys’ tended to take a longer social media vacation than girls.
3 Ways to Inspire Your Teen to Take a Break
Have a teen who’s not exactly volunteering for a Snapchat fast? Try sharing these research-backed facts:
If they’re heart-broken: Research shows that following ex-boyfriends and girlfriends on social media makes breaking up significantly more difficult.
If they’ve got a test: Brains need digital downtime in order to consolidate and retain information.
If they’re feeling down/depressed: Science proves that constant checking in can make people feel worse. In some cases, much worse.