Tips to safeguard your teen or tween on social media

The world of social media can be scary, particularly for parents who haven’t grown up with it (most of us!).

WORDS: Lauren Adlam, Founder of Zown

There are some clear benefits of social media for tweens and teens. Through social media, kids are globally aware, connected with like-minded people who may not be geographically close, educated, inspired by role models who are accessible, and they’re digitally literate.

Of course, there are negatives. Kids are more connected than ever before with volume of connections, but they’re also lonely because connections lack depth.  Plus, perceived anonymity and lack of moderation can lead to unsavoury or untrue content being shared. And in my opinion, the biggest issue are the algorithms created by big social media companies, where opinions are swayed rather than presenting balanced views, with the driver to keep kids online. There are also the dangers of connecting with people who are not who they seem, and the inability to disconnect and switch off.

So, what do we do to harness the positive and minimise the negative?

I find it fascinating, that there is a general trend in our society where we overprotect in real life and under protect online. Parents are reluctant to let their kids walk around the block on their own but give uninhibited access to the online world. This balance must change.

As parents and carers communication is key – not always easy with tweens and teens! Spend time in their online world – create a TikTok or Snapchat account and spend time each week engaging with content. Talk to your children about what you have seen online, the good and the bad. Critically assess the media they are consuming – is this a balanced view? Should they follow other accounts for both sides of a story? Does it make them feel good? (If not, unfollow!) Ask questions about what they have seen online – what was funny, unusual, scary, surprising?

Role modelling balance between time spent online – for leisure, research, news, escapism – with time spent in real life – in nature, with friends and family, exercising and practicing healthy habits – is key. We also need to demonstrate regular curation of our own feeds. If an account doesn’t make us feel good, unfollow. Discuss this with your children… why don’t they make you feel good? What are you looking for in your feed?

Enforce digital downtime. This could be time where the whole family is offline or time limits for apps and screen time limits. This also needs to be role modelled. Actively put your own phone away.

Respect your child’s digital footprint. Too often I see parents sharing photos and stories about their children – have they given their consent? Are their friends in the photos OK with it also? Parents are critical of the amount of time our kids spend online, when Gen Alpha have grown up with their parents’ phones in their faces, recording every milestone and sharing online.

A huge challenge we face parenting Gen Alpha is trying to protect kids from seeing things we don’t want them to see. When I was a child, my parents could simply choose not to turn on the 6pm news and I wouldn’t be exposed. Now, kids are served news, often sensationalised, in real time and in graphic reality. This is very difficult to safeguard against, but open communication will allow you to discuss appropriately.

My top tips to safeguard your tween or teen on social media:

  • Always be their ‘friend’ online to see what they are posting
  • Insist they ask for approval and discuss apps before downloading
  • Be aware of private / secondary accounts that you don’t have access to
  • Have the highest privacy settings in place – with awareness that someone they ‘friend’ might not actually be that person
  • Encourage critical analysis of everything online. Is the person who they think? Is the information shared true? Is this content making them feel good?
  • Never share photos that involve any kind of nudity. Younger kids will laugh when this conversation takes place. Then they engage in conversation with a ‘friend’ – who may or may not be real – and are encouraged to share the photos. These photos could then be shared, changed or used for bribery, by real people and bots. Minimise the risk: no nudes!
  • Reinforce that anything that goes on the internet is there forever. This includes ‘disappearing’ images
  • If they wouldn’t say something to someone’s face (or to their grandparents), don’t say it online
  • Revisit your rules and expectations often. Kids, especially teens who are going through synapse pruning, forget. Despite eye rolls, they’ll be grateful one day
  • Have regular conversations about their feed, about who they follow, ask them to show you the good things they have seen online, and the bad
  • Encourage your child to tell you if they or their friends encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. This needs to be 100% without judgement or fear of punishment. From there, you are their safety net. Help navigate by reporting to police or eSafety, discussing with their school or whatever course of action is needed


The conversation around increasing the legal age for social media access in Australia is a good one and I’m so pleased to see it making headlines. That said, there needs to be careful consideration of how this can be enforced and regulated and how it might impact potentially vulnerable tweens and teens who use social media for good. I’m excited to see how this eventuates and look forward to being part of the conversation – as an advocate for Gen Alpha, as a parent and as a business owner offering a safe alternative.

Social media isn’t going away – and it’s not all bad. For some kids, it is a literal lifeline. Parents need to understand it and have active and open communication about online content and the role social media is playing in their tweens and teens’ lives – just as much as they would for things happening in real life.

Lauren Adlam is a mum of 4 tweens and teens who has first-hand experience how different (and in her opinion more difficult) it is for kids growing up as Gen Z and Gen Alpha compared to their Gen X and Millennial parents. Lauren is a passionate believer and advocate for Gen Alpha – she thinks tweens and teens are awesome and need to be understood and nurtured rather than judged and misunderstood!

Zown is a healthy, safe and positive alternative to social media, a way to access good news, affirmations, healthy resources to help kids thrive not just survive the tween and teen years. Zown lets kids create and share content – anonymously and moderated by an adult with rules to role model online safety. It is a safe space to share with a community of tweens and teens – without the pressure of clicks, likes and algorithms.

For more information:


Follow KIDDO on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter

You may also like