By MIKE BRAKE
Last week’s story “Betrayal” in the Los Alamos Daily Post was deeply saddening and disturbing to read. It broke my heart for those who are involved.
I’ve been working with teenagers in Los Alamos for over 12 years and issues regarding properly handling social media, Internet/cell phone usage, and the dangers of pornography are all reoccurring themes in my conversations with teens and parents.
As the youth pastor at First Baptist Church I work hard to create a positive and safe environment for teenagers and also their parents to openly discuss any issue, ask any questions and get honest answers. Whether we’re discussing sexting, mental health or teen suicide it’s important to keep any topic open for discussion no matter how hard and uncomfortable it can be to have the conversation.
In regard to online activity, many parents are overwhelmed by all of the technology (and rightfully so) and don’t know where to begin on helping their children create healthy boundaries for social media. I’m no expert myself, but what I love to do is equip parents with resources and point them to a variety of options to help them navigate the issues.
Each household is going to have their own way in handling these issues. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but I do believe there is a solution for each family. The key is conversations (plural – as one “talk” will probably not suffice) to see what will work best for you and your family. What you’ll find in these conversations about social media and cell phone usage move to deeper issues like trust, safety, and open communication. These are the bigger issues that need to be discussed to help set our teens up for success in their online activity.
With all that said I want to provide a list of resources that can help you navigate the issues and keep the conversation going. There is a TON of stuff out there, so if you have something better, then by all means feel free to use that (and share with the rest of us). If you find something in these resources that work for you and your family, then great! And if you read something that you believe is a load of crap, that’s completely fine, too (at least you’ve solidified your stance!).
Again this goal is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but to provide parents with tools to get the conversation going with their teen.
One of the BEST RESOURCES I found:
What Your Teen Is Doing On Social Media? – A one-stop-shop for teens and social media (statistics, popular apps, checking internet history, parenting tips etc). Written in 2014, so a little outdated, but not by much. If you check nothing else out, I’d read this!
Internet Accountability Software
Covenant Eyes – Tracks websites on computers and smartphones. (Costs Money)
X3Watch – Same as above (Free and Paid services available).
Blogs – Most of these are from 2014, so feel free to substitute “Facebook” for whatever social media app your teen uses today.
More “One-Stop” Shops
x3Church Parent’s Social Networking Guide – I’ve used this guide as the basis for a Parenting Teens Class at our church. It’s not just social media either. This website deals with pornography in an upfront way for everyone of all ages and leads them to the true hope and healing.
Social Media 101 – This website has a ton of great resources. Just type “Social Media” in their search box.
Parent Tech Guide – A resource for parents to help navigate the challenges faced by technology and teach our children how to use technology in a healthy way.