You may be fully aware of the studies that report how social media can affect our mental health. Teenagers may compare themselves to others and develop body image issues or other mental health issues. Some may even experience cyberbullying through social media.
However, there is another risk of social media that parents should be aware of: criminal charges.
Social media trends could mean danger for teens
At times, there are “challenges” promoted across social media. Some of them are innocent fun, but others are becoming a common source of criminal charges. Many of them involve thefts, with some examples including:
- The “devious lick,” which challenged students to vandalize or steal items from their school or public places and post it online
- The much more extreme “Kia Challenge,” which shows individuals how to steal certain brands of vehicles and is increasing vehicle thefts across the nation
One of the primary elements of these challenges encourages individuals to post about the crime. Essentially, the post provides evidence of someone committing a crime.
2 steps parents can take to help their kids avoid these risks
You want to respect your teen’s privacy. However, you also want to protect them – especially from themselves. It is important to have an open conversation with your children and:
- Understand what they are doing online: Nemours KidsHealth admits that it can be more challenging to monitor a teen’s online activity, versus a younger child’s. Sit down with them and talk about what they usually do on their phones or computers. This can be a difficult conversation, as teenagers might dodge questions. You may have to be patient and have this conversation more than once and check in on them frequently. There are apps that help to monitor their activity.
- Make sure they know the danger: It might seem like a scare tactic, but you should discuss both the general dangers of social media, as well as the very real consequences it can have on their lives and futures.
These conversations are not easy, but they can make a big difference in how your child approaches social media. The increasing risks of these challenges and the criminal charges they could lead to is an issue all parents and teenagers should discuss and understand.