Know the Landscape
From Xanga and Friendster to Twitter and Snapchat, the social media landscape has changed tremendously over the past decade. That can create a challenge when it comes to knowing how your kids are interacting with others online.
If you don’t understand the virtual playground in which your child is spending his time, it can be hard to effectively parent and create boundaries.
The first thing a parent should do is start researching, and make an effort to understand how social networks work and what teens and children can do on these sites. Depending on your level of technological expertise, a crash course in social media is one of the best places to get started. Many community colleges, chambers of commerce and community groups offer training in Internet basics — often with at least some focus on social media.
Another solid option is to do some searching online. Major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram make information available about how the services work. Study up, and make sure you know the basics.
Ask your kids what they use
Talk to your children about which networks they use and the sites they visit. Make an effort to understand how they work and who your children are communicating with on a daily basis. The Internet represents a whole new world of social options. Knowledge is power, so make sure you know where your kids are spending their time.
Realize it’s hard to keep up
Technology evolves rapidly, and with that speed, new social networks and communication tools are cropping up every few months. Children and teens are often among the earliest adopters for these technologies, so it can be hard for parents to stay on top of the latest trends.
While many adults frequently use programs like Facebook and Twitter, new networks spread by word of mouth and online buzz for kids. Teens might be drawn to these services by the sheer fact that their parents don’t know about them.