Back to School: How to talk about the consequences of social media activity

phoneIt’s easy to stress how important it is to talk to kids about social media and technology.

But it can be difficult to have that conversation, or even initiate it.

Mary Egan, director of outreach for Rosecrance Health Network, stresses that parents need to take time to talk to their children about these issues. She said two of her favorite times to address the topics are at the dinner table and in the car.

“Too often, communication wanes in the teen years, but adolescence is still one of the most important times to have regular conversations about everyday topics along with significant topics like drugs, sex, friendships, stress, college, online behavior, etc., “ Egan said.
“Having meaningful conversations with your teens shows that you love them.”

If parents observe online or phone communications related to drugs and alcohol, they need to talk to their kids about those conversations.

Mary Egan

Mary Egan

“Too often, kids will try to explain it away as nothing (‘It’s my friend’s stuff’) or start to use slang or code words for drugs and alcohol,” Egan said. “Parents need to continually educate themselves about drug trends, and if there is a concern, seek out professional help.”

Parents who check their kids’ text messages while the children are sleeping or who sneak phones to monitor them could be experiencing communication issues. They should instead directly express concerns to their teen with a clear and consistent message about the dangers of teen drug use and take action when evidence of use exists.

“Too often, parents neglect to provide consequences or follow-through with professional help when they suspect their child is using drugs or alcohol,” Egan said. “Many think that kids will be kids, that all kids drink or dabble in drugs, it’s only experimentation or a phase, and it’s not those serious drugs like heroin or cocaine.”

Denial and lack of action can allow teen drug abuse to escalate to the point where school is affected, trouble with police occurs, development is delayed or treatment might be needed.

“At this point, it is often not so much what you say, but what you do,” Egan said. “Mean what you say, and do what you say.”

We can help you figure out those next steps. Rosecrance offers a variety of services for teens and adolescents, including a detox program, inpatient drug treatment and outpatient care.

Call 888-928-5278 for help now, or visit rosecrance.org to schedule a free consultation about teen substance abuse.