Internet Safety to Prevent Teen Addiction
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Many parents worry that their children are addicted to the internet, and rightfully so. Studies show that nearly half of all teenagers admit to using the internet almost constantly.1 With this type of usage comes concern about how their internet usage may impact them in terms of trying new things and potentially becoming addicted to a substance. As we all know, there’s no denying the influence the internet can have on teens in every aspect of their lives. We’re going to explore how internet usage may tempt teens to go down dangerous paths and how you can discuss internet safety to prevent teen addiction.

How the Internet Can Influence Teen Substance Use

Social Media Images

The internet’s impact on teens’ decision to use drugs and alcohol is undeniable. One study found that teens who use social media regularly were more likely to drink, use drugs, and buy tobacco compared to their peers who were online less or not at all.2 Here’s a look at the specifics:

Teens who regularly used social media were:

  • 5 times more likely to buy cigarettes
  • 3 times more likely to drink alcohol
  • 2 times more likely to use marijuana

What’s the reason behind these stats? Many popular social media sites are full of images of teens and celebrities drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. When teens see these images, they may be tempted to know what the hype is all about. This curiosity can lead them to try these substances. They may feel as though they are missing out on something when in reality, they could be setting themselves up for a substance abuse problem.


While it is illegal to directly advertise alcohol and tobacco to minors, companies can still reach this audience through social media. Companies are savvy when it comes to using popular social media platforms to target teens. Seeing images of these substances can tempt teens to try them. When they only see the product and not its consequences, they don’t realize what they may be getting themselves into.

Mental Health Impact

Intense exposure to social media can also impact a teen’s mental health, leading them to feel anxious or depressed. The images teens see on social media can make them compare themselves to others and feel inadequate. These feelings can lead to depression, which can catalyze drug and alcohol use. Teens may use these substances to make them feel better when they are only harming themselves.

Negative Body Image

Social media is full of images of beautiful, slim bodies. If teens are bombarded with these issues and feel as though they don’t measure up, they may turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Focusing on unrealistic expectations can also cause teens to develop disordered eating and/or use drugs as they strive to look a certain way and reach unrealistic goals.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Internet Safety and Prevent Teen Addiction

Choose the Right Time to Talk to Them

We all know that teens can be difficult to talk to. This is why timing is everything. When you’re getting ready to talk to your teen about internet safety, choose a time when they are calm and not distracted. You want to have their complete attention and be as friendly as possible. If your teen thinks they are being attacked or accused, your conversation is not going to go well.

Educate Them in a Safe Way

Empowering your children against the dangers of the internet is a good way to educate them. Teach them how to block and report bullying or any other type of harassment they may encounter.

Explain Distorted Reality

The internet can present distorted images of reality. Teens may not realize that what they see may not be reality. These distorted images may lead them to poor choices. Parents need to explain that people can put altered images online and present ideas and situations that are not 100% factual. Explaining these things can help keep teens safe on the internet and prevent teen addiction.

Parental Controls to Check Teenagers’ Internet Use

There are several tools parents have access to that can help them monitor and limit their teens’ internet use and prevent teen addiction.

Apple’s Screen Time Settings

If your child has an iPhone or an iPad, Apple’s Screen Time settings allow you to control how much time your children spend on certain apps. You can even turn the phone off for specific stretches of time. You can set it up on your teen’s device and password-protect the settings, or you can use Family Sharing through your Apple account.

Google Family Link

The Google Family link allows parents of Android users to track and control online activity, including texts and social media, using their own phone. Android’s Digital Wellbeing settings are another option when it comes to parental controls.


Bark is a parental control app that screens social media, as well as texts, emails, and doc-sharing apps.3 If the filters catch something fishy, Bark will guide you on how to converse with your teen or seek counseling. With Bark, you can’t lock down a phone besides disabling internet access.

MM Guardian

MM Guardian offers more parental controls than the ones Bark provides for parents who want more access.3 This parental control allows parents to read all sent and received text messages, as well as view call log history, block phone numbers, and view browsing history.

Contact Ember Recovery to Talk About How to Prevent Teen Addiction

Studies have shown that excessive internet use can lead to substance abuse.4 If you are concerned that your teen is falling into this pattern, contact Ember Recovery today. Our team is committed to finding the right treatment program to help your teenager. Call us today or reach out online.