Teens across the country are having their previous social media posts brought to light when they contain racist comments or activities.

We all agree that social media is a double-edged sword. It can be both an excellent tool to share the good things happening in life, or it can become a severe problem.

As a parent, you need to be in tune with what your teen may be posting or has posted on social media. In the last week, there have been cases of extreme embarrassment and guilt felt by parents because of their teens’ online conduct.

Many teens are starting to feel or see the implications of photos or videos they thought were funny, only to see them resurface in a climate where it is not as amusing, but rather hurtful and not in good taste.

These implications can also spill over to affecting their status in school, athletic teams, and their parent’s careers or businesses.

Bullying, Racism, and Crimes

The content we’re talking about ranges from the poor treatment of fellow students or teens in the form of bullying, or the creation of videos or photos which are racist. Some teens show off their ability to commit crimes in hopes of doing better than the previous person who did it online.

Poor Decisions – The George Floyd Challenge
There have been a few cases in the United States where people are imitating what the world saw in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis; one person lays on their stomach with their hands behind their back, while another person places their knee on the back of the neck of the person laying down.

Tip #1 – It Starts At Home

Parents and guardians are role models for young people living in the house. Everything of how an adult acts on both social media and in person, is soaked up by young people. If the person indeed looks up or respects an adult, they might emulate them. As an adult, strive to be a good role model.

This article’s purpose is not to help you cover something up, but rather, help you as a parent become more in tune with your teen’s activities on social media and more importantly, who they are developing as a person.

Tip #2 – Have A Discussion

Even if your teen has not posted anything questionable, you need to discuss the content you expect them to post on social media. Talk about what kind of content would disappoint you and bring embarrassment to themselves and your family.

More importantly, their behavior and decisions need to be well-made for not only social media but also their offline interactions.

Tip #3 – Monitor Their Social Media

There are plenty of apps that allow parents to monitor teen’s activities on their mobile devices and social media accounts. Granted, teens will call it snooping, but you can call it training. You’ll be guiding them and training them in the right way to conduct themselves online. Just as you’ve taught them other skills to prepare them for adulthood, you need to train them in the essential skill of communication.

You should have access to their social media on your device and access to their email account. This way, you see all messages going in and out on social media, and you know each time they set up a new account or converse through email.

Consider Getting Trained

We all like to feel like we have a good handle on how social media works, but there’s still a great deal of information parents may not know.

Social media training services, such as Smart Social helps and teaches both parent, students, and educators on how to properly and safely use social media.

Tip #4 – Clean It Up

This might be hard for both parents and teens, but you need to see what they’ve posted their entire time on social media. Don’t just go back a few years. You need to check everything. It’s that one post they thought was funny but is despicable, that will bite them in the rear.

If you do find something inappropriate, you need to delete it and discuss why it was wrong in the first place. This is not just a moment to purge their social media, but a teaching moment as well.

Be aware of this; Even if you delete something, it can still be circulating online somewhere. Also, with the ability to take screenshots on any device now, that lousy content could live forever.

Tip #5 – Be Prepared For What May Happen

In the event your teens’ social media post has “gone viral” or is gaining attention, you will need to take some steps to help prevent it from getting out of control.

If by any means, you feel you or your family’s safety is in jeopardy, you should reach out to your local law enforcement agency so they can determine if any crimes are being committed.

Depending on the gravity of the situation, you may need to solicit the help of a social media professional who deals in crisis communication or public relations.

Which California Laws May Apply?
There are many laws which might be applicable in a given scenario, but these are most applicable to social media harassment or threats:
Penal Code Section 422 – Criminal Threats
Penal Code Section 502 – Unauthorized Access To Computer Systems
Penal Code Section 520 – Extortion
Penal Code Section 530.5 – Identity Theft
Penal Code Section 632 – Unlawful Recording Of Communications
Penal Code Section 646.9 – Online Harassment With Threats
Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) – California’s “Revenge Porn Law”
Penal Code Section 653m – Online Annoyance and Threats
Penal Code Section 653.2 – Publishing of Personal Information For Purposes Of Instilling Fear


The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your local law enforcement agency for further information, or seek the assistance of an attorney, should you require additional assistance.