Yesterday I shared the disturbing trend of teens fishing for compliments online in Do You Think I’m Pretty. This self-destructive activity is a cancer eating away at the self-esteem of both young women and men. The more revealing, the more shocking, the better. Even nice Christian youth are bombarded on a daily basis with images and words way beyond their years.
Cell phones, iTouch, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s here to stay.
What’s a parent to do? Take time to set boundaries. While teens may feel boundaries are too restrictive, you and I both know boundaries can provide freedom. Loose and ill-defined boundaries can lead to areas that can ultimately cause spiritual and physical harm.
* By clicking ‘like’ or commenting on any post (for example a Most Beautiful ___ page), your child’s name will show up as a link back to her Facebook page. Make sure security settings are in place to allow only friends to see content, especially on photos. Not everyone is who they say they are, and that stranger could be sending your child a friend request.
* There is a difference between being a friend, knowing someone, and saying that we live in the same town / state. Teach your child to say no to every friend request that does not meet the criteria your family has set. If you have a funny feeling–delete them. Is your child getting an excessive amount of friend requests from people you do not know? Look below the surface and see where they are coming from. Depending on the age and maturity of your child, you may want to be the one who approves all friends from the start.
* Friend your child and have their passwords. Let your child know up front that mom and dad are overseeing the account. In my home when the question of child privacy has come up, the reply of my husband and I has been that Facebook is not a diary nor a place to share private matters–and a reminder that Mom and Dad will see everything.
* Photos. How many of us have seen the endless parade of duck lip pictures? You know the ones–lip puckered out to make checks look thinner. Stacey McDonald has an excellent post entitled, What Do Your Eyes Say? I encourage everyone to read this post on how nice Christian girls are being deceived and drawn away. Set boundaries with the type of photos that are allowed online.
* Another thing about Facebook photo settings, if not set correctly, anyone that is friends with you can access your child’s photos. Are you comfortable with everyone on your friend’s list having access?
* If your child has a cell phone or iTouch, you can always be the keeper of the passwords. This will require your child to come to you to add an App. or if you choose, log into certain Apps such as Twitter and Facebook. You can also delete those Apps whenever you want.
We’ve all heard it said, and have probably said it a million times ourselves, that we are to be parents first before friends. In situations such as online security, there has to be diligence and oversight.
Do you have strategies and tips to share regarding online use for teens?