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Online Safety: Posting Pictures Online

Talking to teens about internet safety can often be frustrating, especially if they pretends to listen, giving one word responses at the right times. For that reason, the first tip for talking to a teenager (about anything) is to make it a routine.

If you truly want to have meaningful two-way conversations on a variety of topics, including the short term and long term concerns of posting pictures online, laying the proper ground work is essential.

Making Time for Open Conversation

It can be weekly, or monthly, or as often as every day after dinner. Families that “enforce” open conversations are more aware of what’s really going on with every family member, and that’s important. Discussions about internet safety for kids doesn’t have to (always) center around extremely sensitive, awkward, uncomfortable, or otherwise personal topics. In fact it will feel easier to talk about anything when your family has a routine of open conversation.

Some general guidelines to follow include:

  • The dinner table is a good place for casual family conversation about almost anything, but avoid topics that are too personal or uncomfortable while eating. Use these times as a good starting point to learn what your kids think and feel about various topics.
  • Open conversation should take place in a relaxed and comfortable environment. However, nobody should be distracted… and that means you should not have open conversations while driving or with the TV on.
  • During open conversations, everybody should have their cell phone off or in another room. This includes you!
  • Give your teenager your undivided attention. Ask open ended questions that can’t be given a short answer. Wait for an answer, and listen.

Above all else, having an open mind as a parent is crucial. Your teenager must feel comfortable talking to you, without fear of repercussion, or she will only give you the parts that she feels are safe to tell you.

Be Easy to Talk To

It’s frustrating when you try to talk to a teenager who won’t say much to you, but is always texting on their phone. Surely she has something to say… why are they so aloof with you?

Before you go blaming the phone, ask how difficult it might be for your teenage daughter or son to get your undivided attention. Remember that you have a lot on your mind too, so sometimes you might be too distracted and equally difficult to talk to.

Then there is the parenting style you follow. Parents who say “No, because I said so” are less easy to talk to then parents who say “No, because {explanation}.” Although your teenager is still a child in your heart, you are still raising a person who has reached a point of independence that you aren’t happy about. It shows, but there is nothing you can do to keep her a baby forever.

Make Them Laugh

The tough conversations are even tougher with a teenager. Teens know that babies aren’t brought by a stork, and at least one of their peers probably already has one on the way. When having a tough conversation with a teenager, you want to contribute information from a different perspective while also gaining an understanding of where they are coming from.

While being a good listener, you must also understand that this conversation is a million times tougher for your son or daughter to be having with you. Consider how awkward you feel bringing it up, and multiply it by infinity.

The most helpful thing you can do is set the tone to ease their discomfort. Use humor to make them laugh (but not humor that will only make her more uncomfortable!) and your child will be more likely to relax and open up to you.

Talking About Posting Pictures Online

This might come as a shock to you, but many teenagers can be reckless with the photos they post online. This is particularly true of girls. They want so badly to be seen as mature adults—and as attractive females—that they will share pictures of themselves that are various levels of inappropriate.

(You can start with that, if you want.)

Did you know that pictures you share online can be traced to your location, even if you don’t tag it on Facebook? (You can start with that too, maybe even share an article that talks about how location services in smart phone cameras place a stamp that can be used by computer-savvy web users to find out where a person is located.)

The important thing is not to go through your teenagers’ social media page without her permission and comment on pictures belonging to her or her friends. (A teens privacy on Facebook is up to each parent’s discretion and it may be as easy as ‘being friends’ with your kids on Facebook so they know you expect a certain standard of conduct). Raise awareness about various issues regarding social media and plant the seed of a new perspective.

Note- It is perfectly okay to inform your daughter that “duck lips” are terribly ridiculous looking, but a genuine smile is much more beautiful and attractive to boys!

The point is that you aren’t entirely in charge of the conversation and shouldn’t try to stick to one point. Encourage your daughter to participate by asking her opinion on inappropriate pictures (where does see the line drawn?) or finding out what she knows about geotagging.

Rather than taking the cliché paranoid parent approach, talk about posting pictures online as a casual conversation. You’ll get the answers you want, and it will give you both a chance to learn from each other.

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