It’s still summer, and by this point, your kids may be getting antsy with all the time on their hands. That’s why it’s even more important to make sure that they are handling media responsibly.
Tips to keep your teens safe this summer (and all through the year!):
#1 Talk about both the pros and cons of social media
Social media has some pros — being more connected, able to be involved with events around you — but it also has some cons — some people online are dangerous. Make sure you explain to teens that people online may not be who they appear to be. Be aware that human traffickers sometimes hide behind the guise of a social media profile to lure young people into trafficking. Encourage them to talk to you if anyone says something that makes them uncomfortable.
#2 Set boundaries for social media use
Set boundaries for your teens as you deem appropriate for your child’s needs and age. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that they should have access to their phones 24/7. Boundaries may include limiting the amount of time they can be on their phones, limiting the time of day they can be on their phones, or limiting the websites or apps they can use. Setting boundaries is a good, protective step for your teen and allows them to use you as an excuse for not being on their phones 24/7.
#3 Talk about the dangers behind substance use
Your teen may be hanging out with friends this summer or going to a few parties. Before they go to these events, discuss the specific dangers behind different substances with your child. Even if you think your child will never get into “that kind of thing,” it’s still important to discuss the dangers before they face them. Unfortunately, you can’t always control what your child is exposed to, but you can control how prepared they are.
#4 Discuss peer pressure and exit strategies
Discuss the types of peer pressure that your child faces and ways to stand up to it. Your child needs to be reassured that their well-being is far more important than what others think they should be doing or thinking. Help them come up with some excuses they could use that are more than just “no,” and remind them they can always blame their parents. Consider coming up with a codeword that they can use in case they need an excuse to leave or if they feel they are in danger.
Instead of spending all of their time on apps or the internet, here are some other ideas for staying busy:
- Learn how to cook something new
- Do something kind for someone — a neighbor, a family member, or a complete stranger
- Go somewhere in your town that you’ve never been before — be a tourist in your own city!
- Re-create some childhood photos
- Go through your room and donate your unneeded items
- Learn a new skill that you’ve always wanted to try — a new dance move, a magic trick, riding a unicycle!
- Read every book from your favorite author
- Make up a dance for your favorite song and turn it into a music video
- Write letters to friends and family that live far away
- Have a family game night
We hope these tips help you and your teen have a safe, fun summer!