Protecting Your Teen

Being a teen has never been easy. The teenage years are fraught with hormones and stress. Few people feel at home in their teenage bodies or at ease in teenage social situations. And, in our modern world, things are only tougher on teens: Added threats like cyberbullying and a horrifying nationwide opioid crisis are making it in some ways more difficult — and more dangerous — to be a teen than ever.

As a parent, you always want what is best for your teen. “But what is that?” asks Common Cents Mom. How can you help your teen without making things worse for them? The decisions won’t always be easy, but you should know some things to make things as easy and as effective as possible.

Help your child protect their privacy online

Social media began as a benign and fascinating way to connect with others online. Today, it’s in many ways a troubling thing. Social media posts can divide friends and family, destroy career opportunities, and reveal personal information to the wrong people. Burglars, for instance, use social media to determine when their would-be victims are out of town. There are also less criminal, but still disturbing, uses of social media for violating privacy. For instance, an embarrassing photo can all too easily go viral.

Parents have a role to play in protecting the privacy of their children. That’s particularly true early in life, when parents should consider the ways in which their posts may someday affect their young child’s life. But it remains true later on, when parental Facebook posts can mess up a child’s social life or even expose them to criminals and other dangers.

Keep your family’s social life secure. Use social media privacy settings to protect your posts, and be very wary about what you share. You can find better and more secure ways to store and share family photos. Use secure online photo storage boxes from trusted cloud photo storage brands. That way, you can access your photos from anywhere and even share them with others over the internet, all without having them hit Facebook, where they’d be viewed by your many followers and perhaps compromised by Facebook’s often lax security measures.

Monitoring your teen’s mental health

Mental health is a big issue, particularly among teens. Experts are finding more and more incidents of depression and anxiety among young people. Perhaps numbers are on the rise, or perhaps we’re getting better at diagnosing the troubles that have plagued teens for generations. It’s likely a bit of both. But the bottom line is this: You need to be aware of your teen’s mental health state.

This can be tough, say the pros at Polaris Teen Depression Center. After all, many teens don’t seem to want to communicate with their parents. But you need to be on the lookout for warning signs such as shifts in your teen’s social life, changes in habits, and other alarming developments, particularly those that seem to mirror depression symptoms, including a lack of energy and interest in activities.

Talk about the difficult stuff
Some of the biggest dangers to teens are subjects that can be difficult to talk about, particularly between kids and their parents: stuff like drugs, alcohol, and sex. If you want to protect your teen, you need to arm them with knowledge — and, above all, you need to make sure that you can talk to them about these difficult subjects. You want your teen to be able to come to you with problems without fearing that you’ll overreact. It can be difficult to balance this with discipline and with your desire to instill the right values. But if you pick your battles and emphasize two-way communication, you’ll make it easier for you and your teen to unite against threats to your teen’s well-being.