Working as a psychotherapist for many years has resulted in my keen awareness for the tsunami of serious incidents that are occurring for young people on social media. Not only do these incidents cause devastation and distress for the young people involved but it is devastating too, for their families, as the consequences can be shocking and dangerous. That was what prompted me to write this book. I am firmly of the opinion that young people can be both physically and psychologically safe on social media while enjoying it, once parents have the knowledge to parent a social media savvy child in an empowered, pro-active way.
As parents – and I speak as a parent here too – we did not experience social media as teenagers and we do not have that wealth of personal experience to fall back on, we can’t, from our own experience know what it’s like. But that does not mean we have to feel disempowered, we just need to be fully aware of the consequence of the fact that young people are at a completely different level of psychological development than us adults when they begin their online social media lives. How they feel online; how they act online; what drives them to say what they say; and search for what they search for, is all completely different to the experience of us adults. Once we fully grasp how important that fact is, we already have taken one massive step towards keeping our young people safe. And there are five steps in total – including that one – laid out simply and concisely in Keeping Your Child Safe on Social Media. All of them aim to take parents much closer to feeling empowered and capable when it comes to social media parenting.
When it comes to parenting, in relation to our children’s online lives, we are in new territory. Nevertheless, new territory is easy to traverse once we have the map. I hope this book serves as a map for parents and others who engage with young people in relation to their social media use. I care massively about the mental health and well-being of young people and I know that the vast majority of parents do too. Young people deserve to enjoy social media safely. Their well-being matters so let’s keep them safe together.