Seven Tips to Give Your Teens About Social Media

What could you recommend to your teens concerning social media? What are the biggest dangers for them at this young age? In this article, we talk about how you can help them lay the foundations to protect themselves in the digital world today.
Seven Tips to Give Your Teens About Social Media
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 April, 2022

There are certain facts that teens, as potential users, should know about social media. Indeed, children are starting to use these networks at an increasingly earlier age. For this reason, they need to know certain guidelines. As a matter of fact, although most teens probably think they possess a great deal of knowledge on the subject, this isn’t necessarily the case. What’s more, this false sense of security is what makes them such an easy target. Therefore, in this article, we’re going to mention seven tips to give your teens about social media.

Social networks such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitch have increased their number of users in recent years. In fact, they’ve now become a part of the social media landscape. So much so, that many young people now assume that, in order to be someone, they must have a presence on the web. In fact, they don’t only use it to socialize, inform themselves, or entertain themselves, it’s also an environment that they use to conduct their social experiments and shape their identities.

There may well come a time when these tools become indispensable. Indeed, it’s easy to see how a 14-year-old  gets a good part of their daily reinforcement from Instagram. Furthermore, how they can develop an addiction to likes, or that their meaning of life is provided by what appears on the screen.

However, can we prevent young people from reaching these extremes? We can certainly try, by giving them the seven tips below.

One of the most common problems among teenagers is in thinking that, if they’re not connected even for a moment, they’re missing out. It’s actually known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Scared Girl Symbolizing Things Teens Should Know About Social Media

Seven tips to give your teens about social media

Some people may find this subject rather tedious. Some might even think that there’s a danger of being over-alarmist and only seeing the dangers of social media. However, as we mentioned earlier, social media isn’t harmful or damaging in itself. The problem lies in the way the younger generation uses it.

The Qustodio group and the Ipsos company, a multinational specialized in market research, recently conducted a study in which they identified a new reality they named “hyperconnected families”. They discovered that adolescents between 12 and 17 years old spend more time with their devices than the time they spend in class.

They also discovered that, on average, parents tend to restrict their children’s use of technology rather than educating them on its benefits and risks. However, fortunately, this trend is changing. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly necessary, even imperative, for parents to explain to their teenage children about social media.

1. Be careful when publishing certain things

Privacy is one of the most relevant topics in the area of social media. Teens must take great care with the material they publish. Indeed, not everything is okay and not everything is even legally permissible. For example, intimate photos should never be shared, even privately. Because these kinds of images can be used by third parties in a damaging way. As a matter of fact, the phenomenon of sextortion (blackmail through new technology) is common.

One more recommendation is to deactivate the geolocation in any images shared on social media.

2. Not everything that appears on social media is true

Fake news is the order of the day. Sharing data, information, and fake news is something that children and teens should be aware of. Furthermore, beyond fake news is the Instagram underworld where everything is seemingly perfect.

Children must be warned that many of the influencers are only products of social media. In fact, behind those perfect bodies and faces, lie endless tricks, filters, and visits to the cosmetic surgeon.

Adolescents are natives in the world of devices and platforms. However, this doesn’t mean that they have enough psychological skills to deal with channels that are governed by image, the dictatorship of “likes”, fake news, and cybercriminals or cyberbullies. They need advice and guidance.

3. They’re worth much more than a “like”. Validation and comparison risks

Another thing that teenagers should know about social networks is that they shouldn’t base their self-esteem on what happens on these platforms. Often, they upload a photo and watch for the notifications. Furthermore, a comment in one direction or another can fill them with either happiness or insecurity and complexes.

Envy is another recurring factor on social media. Instagram and TikTok are the mirrors in which they compare themselves. However, what they observe here on a daily basis has little to do with who they really are and what surrounds them.

The John Hopkins School of Medicine conducted a study in which they discovered that teen depression and suicidal behaviors have risen in recent decades, associated with the advent of social media.

4. All isn’t lost if you’re offline for a few hours

Another thing that teens should know about social media is that life happens beyond the screen. Therefore, adults should monitor the length of time they spend on their devices. As a matter of fact, teens should get used to having hobbies and passions outside of technology. This will improve their quality of life.

Many adolescents experience irritability, bad moods, and disrupted sleep due to their addiction to social media and their mobile phones. This is something that adults must control and prevent.

5. Say no to online challenges

Online challenges pose a real risk to teens and to any immature and reckless adult. One example was the blackout challenge, which consisted of people choking themselves until they lost consciousness. This was particularly fashionable recently. In fact, several children and adolescents died trying to meet the challenge.

hooded boy symbolizing what teens need adults to understand

6. Don’t participate in cyberbullying

Cyberbullying should neither be promoted nor shared. Teens should know that they mustn’t do this to harm others. Indeed, posting private photos or videos, insulting someone, or harassing them is a crime and a practice in which they shouldn’t ever become involved.

7. In any unusual situation, turn to an adult

This is probably the most basic yet most important advice. Indeed, children and adolescents can and should ask adults for help whenever they find themselves in an unusual, uncomfortable, or threatening situation that they’re unable to deal with. They need to feel that they’re not alone and that they can approach their parents or other appropriate adults to find solutions. Along the same lines, they should report any bullying or harassment campaigns or any inappropriate situations to their classmates.

Finally, educating teens in these guidelines as early as possible will directly mediate their proper use of social networks. Therefore, don’t hesitate to give these seven tips to them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Informe 2021 de Qustodio e Ipsos: Familias hiperconectadas: el nuevo panorama de aprendices y nativos digitales:
  • Salomon I, Brown CS. The Selfie Generation: Examining the Relationship Between Social Media Use and Early Adolescent Body Image. The Journal of Early Adolescence. 2019;39(4):539-560. doi:10.1177/0272431618770809
  • Sha P, Dong X. Research on Adolescents Regarding the Indirect Effect of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress between TikTok Use Disorder and Memory Loss. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 21;18(16):8820. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168820. PMID: 34444569; PMCID: PMC8393543.
  • Woods HC, Scott H. #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. J Adolesc. 2016 Aug;51:41-9. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.05.008. Epub 2016 Jun 10. PMID: 27294324.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.