To get the ball rolling, find five or 10 minutes when your kid is receptive (in other words, don't interrupt their favorite show and demand to talk), and tell them you want to teach them skills that are similar to being able to change a tire: They can get you out of a sticky situation.You can also frame it as something like a driving test: To use social media, they need to be able to operate it safely.Also, tweens and teens who are in emotional distress are especially vulnerable because they crave positive attention and connection, so if you notice your kid withdrawing, being secretive, and hiding online interactions, it's time to ask some questions.
Although only 9 percent of kids get unwanted sexual solicitation online, and only 4 percent of predators try to make offline contact, it's important to take precautions.We're not always going to be with our kids, and -- as painful as it sometimes is -- we can't control everything. We can start with safeguards such as avoiding apps that make contact with strangers easy (such as Kik and Tinder), keeping accounts private, and setting limits on where and when your teen can use a device (as in, not alone in their room at night).Christine Elgersma wrangles learning and social media app reviews and creates parent talks as Senior Editor, Parent Education.Before coming to Common Sense, she helped cultivate and create ELA curriculum for a K-12 app... I may be only a kid but a have a experience here...And creepy people aren't always total strangers; sometimes your kid knows them, but then things get weird -- or scary.
Here are some ideas for how to talk to kids about this tricky subject.
Anything you share with them keeps the conversation going; it doesn't help end it.
Sometimes they'll say they already have something embarrassing to blackmail someone into sending pictures (sometimes called "sextortion"), but sending more never stops the harassment; it only increases it.
Also, predators will sometimes do research and get information from social media profiles to establish trust, so it may seem like they know you, but they don't.
This is also a good reason for teens to think about their digital footprints and the pieces of themselves they share online.
And though it may seem like harmless fun in the moment, there's a real person behind that other screen whose intentions aren't good, so that's not a person you want to tease or make angry.