As if parenting teenagers hasn’t always been difficult enough because of the hormone-driven mood swings that happen at this time in one’s life, now there’s all of the added dangers that come with social media and the Internet. One survey found that 84 percent of teens have their own smartphones, while another found that 95 percent at least have access to a smartphone, even if it isn’t their own. Considering how much more adept teens are at navigating technology than most of their parents, it’s easy for a teenager to use your phone, and erase any evidence of what she was doing on there, without you even knowing it.
There are many reasons you likely want your kids to have access to the Internet, 24/7. You want them to be able to get information when they need it, call you, get important emails on the go, look up directions, find the nearest emergency room when necessary, and more. There are a lot of ways a smartphone can save a teen’s life if it comes to it. But, of course, there are many reasons you likely don’t want your kid on there. Like the fact that 32 percent of teens report having been contacted by a stranger online, and that 21 percent of those engaged in the conversation. We spoke with Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Demetrius Cofield of Black Clinician Network about tools and tips to help keep teens safe.