How to Keep Digital Natives Safe on Social Media

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March 14, 2018

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


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Table of Contents

How to Keep Digital Natives Safe on Social Media an Expert Guest Blog

As a parent, you may think you have done your due diligence by monitoring your teen/pre-teen’s social media usage, but you may have barely scratched the surface. This generation of digital natives communicates through social networks and gains most of its insights into popular culture through social sharing. To call a friend really means sending a group text, various character filters on Snapchat, endless selfies -- and don’t get me started on Snapstreaks. Today, 91% of American teenagers between the ages 13-17 are using their smartphone’s text as well as message capabilities on a regular basis. So with all this, how are parents supposed to keep up and help lead their teen in the right direction? Here are six things parents should be aware of -- as well as talk to their digital natives about:

1. Do not just follow your teen’s social media

Be logged into their account on regular basis. This way, your student will think twice about posting, knowing you are part of their audience. This relies on trust -- parents should be a viewer and not interact with their student’s social media.

2. Parents should be aware of Snapchat’s hidden features

Snapchat is filled with fun new features that make it impossible to keep ahead of students, which is why most parents are not on Snapchat. There’s a feature on Snapchat under “Memories” called “For Your Eyes Only,” which requires a second passcode and keeps snaps private. Yes, you need access to this as well. While this may seem a little extreme, remember that up to this point, no adult is telling your child how to filter the content they share.

3. Play “Social Media Fitbit”

Measuring how much time you are on social media shows both you and your teen how many hours are spent checking the phone and interacting on social sites. While it may have seemed as though you were on Instagram for only 45 minutes, it was actually two hours. There’s an app for this (of course); one of my favorites is called AntiSocial. Be sure to participate in this competition with your teen, lest it seem like a punishment.

4. Understand Streaks in Snapchat

The first sign your teen is addicted to Snapstreaking is when he or she sneaks off at 11:11 p.m. to make a wish on your Snapchat story with the Snapchat 11:11 filter, as well as keeping his or her Snapstreak going. So who cares about checking in with Snapchat? Your teen does because Snapchat offers rewards in the form of emojis. Different rewards are presented with emojis, showing who your teen has snapped with each day, as well as who has snapped them back. The number next to the friend's name goes up with each consecutive day, with the goal being the “100” emoji (representing 100 straight days of Snapstreaks with each other). If you see a “fire” emoji next to the contact’s name, you’ll know that person has what’s referred to in Snapstreak as “hot” and “lit.” Before you overreact and say, “what a waste -- why do we care about this?” understand that this is all based on the marketing strategy of “gamification,” which keeps your competitive teen glued to the phone. It’s not all that far from the “aha moment” when you first discovered Candy Crush.

5. Honor your teen’s trust on Instagram

Parents should note that Instagram Stories can be hidden from anyone your teen so designates -- most likely you, if you're just “following” the account and are not logged into it. Secret accounts (also known as Finstagram accounts) are pervasive; it is fair to say that 8 of 10 teens have a Finstagram account, where they can post bad selfie photos that aren’t filtered and where they let only their close friends follow. Know this account as well but understand this is teen humor, so be sure to honor your child’s trust when he or she shares the code with you. While you may worry, this is actually the account where most teens act like teens – and aren’t necessarily trying to impress each other, as they do with their “real” accounts.

6. Get to know your student’s personality in the digital space

Ask your teen to share with you one person on social media who makes them laugh, one person or social media account that inspires them, and one person or account that they most admire. Look and do not judge; instead, get to know your digital native’s personality in the digital space.

About our guest blogger:Wendy K. Bendoni is a Professor & Chair of Marketing at the School of Business, Woodbury University. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Social Media for Fashion Marketing: Storytelling in a Visual World as well as the mom of one teen and one tween. Learn more about Guest Blogging for

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