What Every Parent Should Know about Social Media

What’s Going On?!

This week I had the privilege of spending an evening with parents and pastors, presenting what is going on in the world of social media. I wish you could have been there! I guess the next best thing would be receiving my notes from the session so here 4 of the highlights and a link to download my notes.

Teens are Hooked on Likes

Whether it’s on Instagram, facebook or twitter teen are trying to post the perfect selfie to get the most likes possible. Do you know that more people died taking selfies than in shark attacks last year! Crazy!

Teen’s have a sensitive self concept. It is growing and changing all of the time. As it develops they are testing the waters with photos to see if their ‘friends’ support their look or behavior. This is not a healthy thing for teens. If your teen lives for likes or obsesses over selfies it would be smart to get involved.

Teens are Involved in Risky Behaviors

Whether it is flirting, sexting, or leaving themselves open to bullying some teens are living dangerously online. Teens need to know that even with apps like Snapchat where they think their risky photos are disappearing after 10 seconds teens have all kinds of ways of capturing these incriminating photos.

You are probably aware of the high school in Colorado that had an epidemic of nude photos of students being shared. They were probably not aware that they could be charged with possessing child pornography and some will have to tell that to the judge…

Teens are Hooked

9 Hours. That’s the average amount of time that teens are spending with screens thanks to smart phones. The applications are different. Some are playing online games. Some are watching You Tube. Some are involved with watching explicit videos or having explicit chats with strangers. The bottom line is that up 24% of North American teens admit to being “constantly” online. Some experience anxiety if they are unable to access their phone for an hour.

The danger for a developing brain is that whatever teens spend the most time doing gets hard wired. Pathways are created when a student spends hours memorizing biology terms or killing zombies. The skills that students develop during this crucial stage will be with them for life. The opposite is also true. The skills (communicating, reasoning, managing money) that are not developed, will be more difficult to use when they are needed

Parents are Getting Involved

As you can see in my info-graphics, parents aren’t standing idly by and watching their kids stay on their phones all night long. 65 % of parents set limits and will take a phone away as punishment. Parents are taking back control with

  • content blocking,
  • turning off the internet
  • limiting screen time
  • shutting phones off at dinner
  • shutting phones off in the car
  • keeping phones out of bedrooms at night
  • having teens earn screen time by completing homework or chores

Enough has gone wrong for parents to think more carefully about when and where their kids can go online.

Download the Info Sheet

There are many more insights that I share in this quick info sheet. I have recent research from the Pew Research Center, Rawhide, Refuel Agency, Marking Charts, CNN and more.  Please download it and if you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you! What Every Parent Should Know About Social Media


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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com