Parents! Do you know if your teen has virtual friends? What information do they share on snapchat, tiktok, online chat rooms?

The latest Pew Research data(2018) find that Teens are more likely to spend time with their friends online on a daily basis than to do so in person

This survey explored the way teens interact with their friends apart from school activities or those directly related to school. Sizable majorities of teens spend at least one day per week with their friends online (88%) or in-person (77%). But when it comes to daily interactions with their friends, teens are much more likely to report that those interactions take place online. Six-in-ten teens say they spend time with their friends online every day or almost every day, compared with 24% who spend time with their friends in person with the same frequency (not including school or school-related activities).

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Socialization is an integral part of learning, coping and life experience. However, overscheduled children say, lack of downtime limits face to face interactions.

Teens from a wide range of groups cite personal obligations as a factor preventing them from seeing friends in person more often, this is an especially common response from teens living in higher-income households. Online socialization seems to also be along the lines of socio economic status. Nearly half (48%) of teens living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more cite this as a factor, compared with 33% of those living in households that earn less than $30,000 annually. Nearly half (48%) of teens living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more cite this as a factor, compared with 33% of those living in households that earn less than $30,000 annually.

Teens credit online groups for introducing them to new people and making them feel more accepted.

According to Huffington Post (Gruber, 2017), parents need to help children understand how to ensure their relationships are safe and positive. She suggests 6 tips to help teens navigate online friendships safely –

 Talk to your teens about the online friends they make and the online friends who choose them. This is a chance to learn about their world, so don't pass judgment too quickly and be prepared to listen.

 Encourage your teens to use the privacy settings offered by their social networks (and do the same yourself).

 Talk to your teens about their future dreams and goals, and how their "digital footprint" can help them achieve those goals. Explain how friends and followers help shape these "digital footprints." If needed, reach out to organizations like Social Assurity who can help teens elevate their social media presence for better career and college opportunities.

 Have a discussion with your teens about meeting online friends offline. Explain how easy it is to pose as a teen online. Ask how well they really know their new online friend, if they have mutual friends, or if any of their offline friends are friends with this new person in "real" life.

 Expect to view some mistakes. You probably made plenty of them as a kid and so will they, only theirs will just be more public and permanent. Be there to help them work through their errors and to learn from them.

Additionally, it is important for parents to know about the most popular apps and how teens use them. Sarasota County Sheriff’s office suggests all parents need to be aware of the following apps.

Additionally, it is important for parents to know about the most popular apps and how teens use them. Sarasota County Sheriff’s office suggests all parents need to be aware of the following apps.

APPS to Help Monitor Teen Online Activity

In order to help ensure your teen’s safety, the most popular parental control apps include Net Nanny, FamilyTime, Qustodio, ESET Parental Control, Web Watcher and Norton Family Premier(Source: Digital Trends). Finally, adolescence is one of the most confusing periods in a teen's life. Parent access and family time can help teens use social media to enhance their relationships, rather than use social media to ward off loneliness.

Nan Menon is currently the Owner and Chief Executive Office at Cedar Hill Prep School Somerset, NJ. Info@cedarhillprep.com www.cedarhillprep.com.

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