03 Jul 2024

Responsible Social Media Use

Do your children spend a lot of time with social media? Are you worried about increased use in the idle hours of summer? Have you tried to limit phone use with great resistance? A Pew Research survey that was conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 23, 2023, among 1,453 13- to 17-year-olds, covered social media, internet use and device ownership among teens. They found that 90% of teens use YouTube regularly, and “majorities of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use TikTok (63%), Snapchat (60%) and Instagram (59%). For older teens ages 15 to 17, these shares are about seven-in-ten.” More concerning, nearly 1 in 5 teens reported that they use YouTube or TikTok “almost constantly.” Source: Pew Research Center

The American Psychological Association recently published a Health Advisory on Social Media use in Adolescence with some guidelines for parents. These recommendations are based on scientific evidence and interviews of experts.

At what age should children be allowed to use social media?

Opinions vary on this, but even though there is a law that prohibits children under 13 from using platforms that advertise to them without parental consent (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in 2000), it is easy to modify a birthdate. If your child doesn’t have access to a phone or social media, there will be a friend who does. Experts agree that the best approach is to start out by working with your children to explore different platforms and sites. Right from the beginning, kids should be friends with their parents on social media so parents can monitor what they are posting.

Review, discuss, and coach

Just like you expect your children to hang with friends, social media is also a big part of pre-teens’ and teens’ social life. If you forbid it, they will be left out. But this doesn’t mean you don’t get to be part of it. Ask your children to show you what they do on social media, and discuss it with them. Make sure they are aware of potential predators and sites to stay away from. It is important to avoid sites that encourage prejudice, hate, or cyberbullying. They should also be coached to avoid using social media for social comparison, such as appearance-related content. Help your children understand excessive online social comparisons and how images and content can be manipulated. All of these situations are part of teaching your children to be safe offline as well. For example, they know not to get in a car with a stranger.

Set limits

It is not healthy for anyone to be on their phones or social media for multiple hours per day. While social media may be a major part of your children’s social life, social media use should not restrict opportunities to practice in-person reciprocal social interactions. Make sure your children are introduced to fun activities where phones can be put away. Phones should be set in a different room for sleep, beginning an hour before bedtime to allow for relaxation and better sleep.

Question Sources

Many people get their news from social media, which can be extremely distorted, inaccurate, and one-sided. Show your children how to get news from a variety of reputable media sources. Social media can be persuasive, encouraging immoral beliefs and behaviors. Help your children understand the tactics used to spread mis- and dis-information.

Embrace the Benefits of Social Media

YouTube, the most used of social media, has tremendous educational value. Many concepts in science and history that would be boring or incomprehensible in textbooks come to life in videos. Many children who are challenged finding social connection can find their niche groups online. Parents can work with their children to help direct them towards positive social media outlets.

Encourage Responsible Independence

As your children get older, parental monitoring and discussion should decrease. Just like you expect your children to be responsible drivers after they receive their licenses, your goal should be for them to be responsible social media users. They still may need occasional monitoring. One way to bond with your children is for them to share videos and other content that they enjoy and find some commonalities. If you show interest in what your children are doing in their free time, they will be more likely to share.

Social media is here to stay. Coaching children to be discriminating users is part of parenting. Eventually, you will have to let your children fly on their own, and parents can help them get there responsibly.

Looking for academic assistance this summer?  Contact Tutoring For Success.

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