The Father Factor

Tips from Tech-Expert Parents to Help Dads Monitor Teens’ Social Media Use

Posted by Melissa Byers

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Feb 8, 2018


When it comes to helping dads understand how they can be involved, one of the areas that requires father involvement is monitoring children and teens’ use of social media.

As adults we know that social media has a way of “taking over” time and attention before we even realized what has happened. So it’s imperative that we educate and equip our children and teens with helpful information and learning opportunities along their journey into the world of social media and app usage. 

I came across a unique article by the Wall Street Journal that shared several helpful perspectives on this exact subject. What makes the tips even more interesting and applicable is that they’re coming from technology expert parents themselves – parents with careers in recognizable companies like Adobe and Cisco Systems.

The experts not only gave tips on what to do with teens, but the “why” behind the what’s, and how going beyond parental controls to help teens make informed judgments themselves, helps to prepare them for the adult world.

The following are 3 areas that the experts covered.

1. Teach Decision-Making:

  • Teach responsibility without parental-control apps or filters by helping teens learn judgment through participating in creating limits and boundaries for themselves on the frequency and level of social media use.
  • Ask teens to let you know when they’re taking breaks from homework to check social media so parents can help to determine if the breaks are too often.
  • Help teens plan ahead for homework, sports engagements, sleep, etc. without letting social media unknowingly take over their time and schedule.
  • Encourage teens to think about everything they post as their “personal brand”; discuss how they want their personal brand to look and how they want it to represent themselves.


“No amount of monitoring is going to teach responsibility or judgment” -Steven Aldrich, GoDaddy chief product officer.

 2. Always Keep a Watchful Eye:

  • Check privacy settings on all apps teens use on a regularly timed basis (e.g. every 3 month, 6 months, etc.)
  • Help teens understand how app developers use ads or other tricky pop-ups to collect information or encourage the user to take an action (and especially ones that seek personal or location information).
  • Converse with teens about the “demands” their culture has created around social media (for example, responding immediately to other’s posts), and how that affects them and their self-esteem.
  • Have teens ask permission before downloading apps; help them by having them explain why and how the app will be beneficial to them in order to get approval.


Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at Cisco Systems, checks privacy settings every six months on the apps she and her daughters use on their smartphones.


 3. Continue to Monitor Closely (for teens and younger children, too):

  • Consider restricting screen time to a certain amount of time on certain days.
  • Depending on the child’s age, have videos stream on the family TV rather than on a private device.
  • Set YouTube on “restricted mode” to prevent unwanted/undesirable content.
  • Have children/early teens start with a flip phone for the purpose of calls and texts only, then graduate to a smartphone with social media capabilities as they mature and as you help them understand responsible social media use.
  • Teach kids the concepts behind the things they are doing (i.e. unintended or hidden consequences), as well as the “why” behind the things you are not letting them do (create a learning opportunity rather than simply a “no”).
  • Ask kids to think about why they are posting what they are posting on social, and help them understand that anyone can identify a person’s location and time of posting (and that this is not information you want just anyone to have).

“When you think about posting something, the questions are, ‘What do you hope to achieve by publishing it? Why does this need to be viewable to the world?” -Adobe’s chief security officer Brad Arkin -- to his son.


Topics: General Fatherhood Research & Studies

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