Parenting kids in this modern age comes with challenges that our own parents never had to face. The advent of the internet presents modern parents and their children with unlimited opportunities, both good and bad. One of the main challenges that you face as a modern parent is keeping your child safe online. That makes knowledgeable digital parenting one of the most important components of being a responsible parent these days. The tween and teen years have always been fraught with angst, raw emotion, and social upheaval; it's just a natural part of making the transition from child to adult, but the internet has created a new level of trouble for this already fragile time.
Social media is an important tool for your teen or tween, studies show that a majority of youth communication is done online, but it can also be a dangerous trap full of pitfalls for your child. Cyberbullying is a very real threat to today's youth, and it has drawn a lot of attention in the media recently for the grave lengths it can go to. The anonymity of the internet allows bullying to run rampant, with kids feeling free to say unbelievably nasty and hurtful things without fear of reprisal. Unlike the schoolyard bullying of your own youth, there is often no teacher or supervisor to referee the horrible things kids are capable of doing to each other.
Why Knowing What Your Teen is Up To Online is So Important
A recent tragic case of a teen committing suicide in the UK sheds some light on the severity of this epidemic. The popular social networking and Q&A site, Ask.fm, was cited as a factor in the case. Ask.fm is one example of why digital parenting is so important; unlike other social media sites frequented by teens and tweens, it lacks many of the parental control features that can help shield your child from the harmful elements that are online.
Ask.fm is based in the country of Latvia and is a popular (with just over 30 million users worldwide) social question-and-answer site for youth in the US, UK, and around the world. Unlike other similar sites, it does not offer parental controls and allows complete anonymity, as well as posting by members to the pages of users as young as thirteen. As in the case of the fifteen-year-old who was bullied to death in Lancashire, anonymous posters can be as ruthless and unbridled as they choose to be, with no repercussions or monitoring. Cyberbullying can be a huge problem on this site.
Open dialogue with your teen is always the best method to keep them safe online or anywhere else, but when that line of communication breaks down, digital parenting tools can help you be aware of what stresses and dangers your child may be facing online and help you find the right ways to talk to them about internet safety, cyberbullying, and the responsible use of social media. In this day and age, using the internet is imperative to everything from schoolwork to getting a future job, and your role as a parent is to help your teen navigate the internet successfully.
Many parents are still in the dark about cyberbullying. Become informed with our free eBook: “10 Essential Things Every Parent Should Know about Cyberbullying.”