How to Learn About Your Teen’s Online Life

What is my teen doing on their social media? How do I learn what my teen is doing online?

The internet is evolving on a daily basis, wait, it’s actually changing minute by minute, and it can be a perfect excuse for parents to say — they simply can’t keep up!

What they are forgetting is, for parents, staying in touch with technology updates and your teen’s social behavior online — is now part of parenting today. In other words, you don’t have an option – your teen’s online life is a priority.

We often talk about how schools need to implement cyber-civics, and I couldn’t agree more. The gap lies with the parents.

Frequently I hear from schools and tech experts, one of the hardest things to do is getting parents involved – it’s a challenge motivating parents to attend workshops or conferences about digital parenting. Many schools will report that the turnout is typically low.

Sadly, it usually takes a small town making national news for unlikely events, or worse a headline like that of the young teen that took her life in front of her family – to give parents a moment of pause. However, it’s all too soon before that pause becomes just another day. Most parents believe these things could never happen to them – or their community.

In a Common Sense Census, Plugged In Parents of Tweens and Teens, it uncovered that parents spend an average of nine hours with social media daily and the vast amount of that time is spent with personal screen media. Interestingly seventy-eight percent of the parents surveyed believe they are good technology role models for their children. Are they?

Do parents need to be reminded of social etiquette?

Like our kids, grown-ups seems to be digitally connected the majority of a day too. We want our children to be involved in digital literacy classes, yet who are we learning from?

  • Are you disconnecting when talking to your friends?
  • Are you minding your cyber-manners when leaving comments on social media?
  • Are you asking permission before posting pictures of friends or relatives?
  • Are you unplugging during mealtime?
  • Are you texting and driving?

Getting interested in your teen’s online life

For most parents, they are overwhelmed with all these new apps, live streaming, sites and technology that seem to have no boundaries – and definitely never ending. It’s time for parents to jump on board – there may never be a day you will master every app or how to Snap, Tweet or even TicTok, however you must be a parent that is interested in learning about all of it. Why? Because your teens are.

You’re never too old to learn, even when it comes to technology.

L Listen to your teens. You may be plugged into your own device, but you must detach from your cyber-place long enough to hear about where the teens are trending online. There are many places virtually that adults (especially parents) could be unaware of. This is not about being nosey, it’s about being a parent. Are they talking about people they are meeting in chatrooms you are not familiar with? Ask about it – safety always trumps privacy. 

EEngage in conversations with your teens about social media sites – online. Yes, go online with your teen and have them explain firsthand how to use apps you may fear or want to learn more about. This is about learning what apps your teen is using too and how they use them. They don’t have to be long conversations, short chats can be more helpful than longer ones. Your teen may actually keep the conversation going longer since it’s a topic they are excited about.

A – Actively learn about new cyber-security measures to share with your family. For example how Instagram updated their features by adding a resource to flag posts that are potentially offensive. As many parents realize, when it comes to harmful and hateful content online, teenagers may not always be forthright in sharing these negative experiences. Be sure they are familiar with how to report and block digital harassment on all their social platforms.

RReach-out to other parents, relatives and friends. Share and learn from each other about cyber safety, apps and discuss what their teens are doing online. Chances are good – your teen is also using the same sites. With the rise in online drug sales, know the warning signs, talk to each other. Never assume bad things can’t happen to good people. 

NNever stop being interested. Think of it like your teen’s sports or dance team. I know most parents wouldn’t miss these events – and they change their schedules to make them happen. With teenagers, their online social life as become priority for many of them — which means parents need to be aware of what they are doing in these virtual playgrounds, who they are hanging with — and be curious (interested) in their online life as you would their offline one.

How will you get started in learning about your teen’s online life?

Read: How to Give Your Teen Tools to Prevent Cyberbullying.

Read: The Impact of Cybebullying On Teenager Mental Health.


Is your teen addicted to gaming? Attached to their devices and social media? Are you struggling to get the involved offline? Have you exhausted your local resources — learn more about the benefits of residential treatment for teen help and your family. Contact us for a free consultation.

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