Managing Your Child’s Social Media

Parenting in the digital age is tricky. The moment you give your child a phone, they have access to social media. But, before you give your teen or tween access to these sites, slow down and consider how the world of social media actually works. These sites are full of distractions, temptations, and can be covertly addicting. What exactly are you giving them access to? Adults and teens use social media is very different ways. Are you ready for your child to be a part of this digital world?

In CNN’s Special Report, Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens, it explains that parents should do a better job of understanding what is happening online. The study conducted by CNN and two child development experts found that there is a considerable misunderstanding between what parents think happens on social media and what their kids actually post. It was estimated that 60% of parents did not realize how social media affected their child’s emotional well-being, causing them feelings of anxiety and depression, while 94% did not know the amount of fighting and bullying that occurs on social media.

You could always delay access to this technology, giving the child more time to mature so that he or she can use it more wisely. However, there are benefits to giving your child a phone, such as for safety. So, now that your child has a phone, how can parents possibly keep tabs on everything their kids are doing on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and all the other social networks?

  • Follow their accounts – In the digital world, nothing is private, and that includes your child’s social media accounts. Let your child know that you will be checking their social media from time to time, and look out for “secret” profile pages that your teen may be hiding from you.
  • Limit the time on social media – Give you child a set amount of time that phones or computers can be used for social media. It is estimated the average teen spend nine hours a day connected to social media. Reducing this will lessen the adverse effects these sites have on the teenage brain.
  • Create a family account – Some families prefer to have one family account instead of individual teen accounts. This allows the family to stay informed in a safer social media setting.
  • Permit social media on large screens only – If social media is only allowed at home on computers, and not on phones, parents have a plain view of what is happening. Not only will they use it less, but they will know their actions are being monitored.
  • Make time for non-tech connections – Maintaining face-to-face interactions with family and friends are imperative for healthy mental growth and social development. Work together to plan get-togethers and moments to share, even if it is a simple family dinner. You may find that your child is more than happy to escape from the dramatic social media world for a little while.

Social media takes maturity. Children need social skills to achieve in life, not social media skills. They need to learn how to manage relationships, face-to-face, and work with their peers. They need to keep their connection with their family and strengthen their moral foundation. Their time is best spent learning, spending time outdoors, pursuing their interests, and not staring at a phone screen for hours a day. With some perspective and parent involvement, it is possible to balance it all, maturely and responsibly.