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Cell Phones and Special Needs Teenagers

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Cell Phones and Special Needs Teenagers

Cell Phones and Special Needs Teenagers

Teenagers are on social media.  All of them!  Add in developmental or cognitive challenges and social media becomes far more complex. It’s up to the parents to help these kids navigate through this entire world that is inside their phones.  Yes, it seems like an invasion of privacy, but honestly, their safety should come first.

Teenagers and Social Media

My teenager is on the autism spectrum and I have permanent access to his phone.  I have all the passwords to his accounts, and I’ve downloaded them on my personal phone because it’s easy to keep up to date.  Our deal is, until he is an adult, the phone is technically ours and only PG communication is allowed.

Why am I monitoring his online activity?  Because it’s how I’m teaching him to protect himself in the future.

Bullying and Social Media

Since I’m on my son’s Instagram,, Snapchat, etc.  I see it all.

What saddens me most is when I see another special needs student get bullied.  For example, one child with special needs in my son’s school was pretty much stalking a popular girl on  He really didn’t get that he was being a pest, posting incessantly, and professing his undying love for her.  The kids started toying with him.  Asking him ridiculous questions and making fun of his devotion.  To make things worse, said popular girl had a popular boyfriend who then started threatening the boy.

Where was his mother?  Why was he left to his own devices in cyber world???  It’s incredibly sad to witness.

Please Check Their Phones!

Parents tell me their kids are not on social media.  Yes, they are!  I see their posts.  They are excellent at hiding apps.  Look inside their folders, especially if it has a suspect label like, “Junk.”

Learn how to use apps.  Snapchat is awesome!  You’ll enjoy the filters.  Instagram is simple. is manageable.  Watch Youtube tutorials if you’re not getting it.  They’re all pretty easy to use once you know how.  And FYI, Facebook is for old people, not teens.

Discuss Laws.  Show them articles on what can happen to them and then talk to them about them.  Explain what the problem was.  How the kids in the articles messed up.  And what they can do instead.  SHOW THEM!

Teach Appropriate Social Media Social Skills

Learn what is appropriate and then teach it.  Should they post once a day on Instagram?  Or is it once a week?  Should they like everyone’s posts or just their close friends? If they take a photo of a Snapchat, did you know it sends the person a notification?  Know what is appropriate!

Watch Catfish

Catfish is a show on MTV.  You can find the first season episodes online.  Why is this so important?  So your child can SEE firsthand how people online trick you.  You’re rarely talking to who you think you are.  People steal photos and use them as their own.  And it’s on MTV, so it’s told to teenagers in their language.  It has a much bigger impact for the to see people just like them be duped, instead of mom nagging yet again:-)

Naked and Sexy Pics

Mamas, please take note.  We live in a society where Kim Khardashian posts naked photos of herself every day and is hugely rewarded financially.  Victoria Secret models have ruled the airways and our malls for decades.  Pop stars make a living gyrating in thongs on stage.  I’m not hating, I’m reminding you what our kids are exposed to ALL DAY LONG.

So, it’s no wonder that our girls like to send sexy pics (and boys too!).  I can’t even tell you how many of your daughters I’ve seen in their underwear.  Yes, they start with the swim suit photos, and then its like a drug, they move to panties, and side boob.  AND MORE.  Again, moms in my community who say their kids are not on social media are sending my kid nudes.  Wake up!

And they watch porn.

Don’t think so?  Check their browsing history.  Either put blocks on their phone so that they can’t access it, or discuss how they can get suspended from school if that’s on their phone.  You decide how to approach it, just don’t wait for them to learn too much about the birds and the bees online.

Reign it In

Is your child so worried about what they’re going to post on social media they’ve stopped living their lives?

Are they addicted to “likes” and attention online?

Do they actually talk to anyone or just texts?

Are they losing sleep because their scrolling through feeds all night?  

Social Media will eat their brains.  Be aware.  Be proactive.  And enjoy the cyber ride!

Parent Resources:

A book that I wouldn’t have expected to be amazing, but very informative is American Girls: Social Media and The Secret Lives of Teenagers and then I always recommend Masterminds and Wingmen.  Honestly, I read all books that are for boys and girl teenagers because I want to know both perspectives.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers By Rosalind Wiseman - Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World (8.11.2013) 

cell phone safety

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