There’s no doubt that tweens and teens are glued to their phones at every available opportunity. However, before you jump to conclusions about what they are doing and with whom they are connecting, it’s important to have “the social media conversation”.
Before you accuse your kids of using social media inappropriately, it is important to find out what they’re doing online. We’ve compiled a set of ready-made questions you can ask to encourage you to talk to your kids about their social media use.
If technology is important to your kids, it is only natural that you want to know which apps they are using and why they are using those particular ones.
When you ask this question, make sure you don’t sound like you want to snoop on them or punish them for something they might have done online. Explain your reasons so that they understand where you are coming from and why you want to know.
This may seem like a no-brainer to your kids, but it’s an important question. Of course, social media is a great tool for connecting with others, but that is not its only purpose.
By asking your kids this question, you will hopefully prompt a healthy conversation about why they’re using it, and what they’re using it for. When you ask them to think about why they use social media, you are getting them to think about their online habits.
By asking this question, you’ll get to know a little more about your kids’ online activity and the kinds of things they are exposed to. When they answer this question, be sure to listen without judgment.
This is a good opportunity to dig deeper into the kinds of sites/apps they frequent and how they are behaving or how others are behaving towards them.
4. Do You Know What It Means to Be a Good Digital Citizen?
Your kids’ answer to question three would have hopefully prompted some open discussion about being responsible on social sites. Topics that might have come up are cyberbullying (what is cyberbullying?), privacy, respecting others, and effective ways to protect yourself online.
By explaining to them how to be a good digital citizen, you will encourage them to think about their behavior online. You can also use the opportunity to teach them about good online etiquette.
By asking a question like this, you might get an animated reply about all the great things your kid is enjoying about social media, or you might get a shrug. If it’s the latter, then your kid’s social media habits may be a result of not knowing how to entertain themselves otherwise.
This could be a good opportunity for you to suggest hobbies, take them out, or encourage them to find out more about what they’re interested in.
Many people think that online privacy only means protecting your passwords. Protecting yourself online is more than just cybersecurity. Internet safety entails protecting yourself from trolls, bullies, scams and fake accounts.
In the worst case scenario, you might find out that your teen is being cyberstalked. If this is the case, there are things to do if you have a cyberstalker.
7. Who Are You Talking To Online?
This may sound like a nosy question, but it doesn’t have to be perceived as such. It depends on how you word it. You could ask your kid about their social media socializing habits. For example: Do they talk to people they know in person or people they’ve never met in person? If they’re using internet dating sites (as an older teenager or young adult), do they know how to spot scammers?
If you find out that they are dating online, make sure you educate them on how to spot and avoid scammers on online dating sites.
8. If Something Bad Happened to You Online, Would You Tell Me About It?
In order to ask this question, you will need to define what “bad” is. With so many potential online threats, it is a good idea to explain to your kid about some not-so-pleasant things about the internet. This is not to deter them from going online, but rather, to make sure they know what to do if something unpleasant happens.
You could use examples from the news, informing them that it is becoming more common for people to be bullied, scammed, or harassed online. By telling them you are aware of the potential dangers of social media, you are encouraging them to be open in case they encounter something similar.
If your child answers this question honestly then it’s a good sign that they’ve reflected about their social media use. If your kids are spending more time than they should online, there’s likely a reason for that.
It could be that they are talking to their friends, following people they like, or scrolling for content that interests them. Whatever the reason, it is important for them to check in with themselves about their social media use.
By showing your kids that you are interested in their online activities, you are encouraging them to share. You might want to take it a step further and ask them to explain how the latest and greatest social media app works. Or you might ask them to show you something funny they’ve seen online and laugh about it together.
By keeping the topic light around social media use, your kids are likely to feel more comfortable about using their social media accounts in front of you. Ultimately, checking in with your kids about their social media activities should be as natural as asking them about a party they attended.