How to Help Your Child Cultivate a Healthy Relationship With Social Media

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Social media is a great resource for kids. It helps them stay connected and learn new things. With that said, social media can also be dangerous. From cyberbullying to false information, it’s all too easy for children to be negatively impacted. Not to mention, social media is often addicting and is known to cause depression and anxiety.

As a parent, you want to ensure your children are safe and develop a healthy relationship with social media. To do that, you should put rules in place and monitor your kid’s online activity. You want them to view social media as a tool and not just a mindless activity. In this article, we discuss how parents can help their children create good relationships with social media.

1. Do Your Research

Like nearly everything in the world, social media is constantly evolving. Many of the apps that were popular a few years ago have been replaced, making it difficult to keep up. However, staying informed is the best way you can help your children cultivate a healthy relationship with social media. 

Before buying your child a phone, figure out which apps you’re comfortable with them using. While TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are popular options, you may not be agreeable to letting your kids use those apps. Do your research on each app, paying attention to the pros and the cons. That will help you decide what you feel is appropriate for your child.

2. Don’t Be Pressured

Before letting your child have access to social media, make sure they are mentally ready. While it might seem like every kid has an Instagram account, that doesn’t have to be your child’s normal. If you don’t think they’re emotionally ready for social media, wait until they’re older.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean your child can’t have a phone. You could buy a cell phone for kids that doesn’t offer social media but keeps them connected to friends and family. They may call and text without you worrying about the potentially detrimental effects of social media. This is also a great way to introduce your kids to technology without all the distractions.

3. Put Rules in Place

The truth of the matter is that social media can be addicting. Furthermore, spending a lot of time on social media may negatively impact one’s mental health. According to Addiction Center, 27% of children who spend at least three hours a day on social media experience mental health problems.

Research also shows overusing social media is more problematic in children because their brains and social skills are still developing. This means they are more impressionable about what they may see when they’re online. Having rules in place, like a daily limit for using social media, can help your kids avoid the adverse effects.

4. Impose Consequences

Having rules is only the first part, you also need disciplinary measures for when those rules are broken. A good way to go about this is to involve your children. Talk to them about the rules and ask what they think the consequence should be when a rule is broken.

Involving your children gives them a chance to control the outcome and makes it less likely they’ll break the rules. It also opens a dialogue for you to discuss the positive and negative impacts of social media.

During this time, make sure your kids are aware of why rules and penalties are necessary. While you don’t want to scare them, they need to know social media can be a dangerous place.

5. Monitor Closely

It might sound intrusive, but monitoring your children’s social media activity will help keep them safe. While social media is a great place for kids to connect and have fun, it’s easy to stumble into something dangerous. Luckily, there are several ways you can monitor your children’s activity online.

For one, you could regularly look through their phones and tablets. You might also follow your kids on social media to keep an eye on what they’re up to. Another option is to update your internet privacy settings so your children aren’t able to access certain social media sites. Make sure to discuss the measures you’re taking with your children so they don’t feel you’re going behind their backs.

6. Set a Good Example

Your children learn from watching you. If you’re constantly scrolling through social media, they’ll want to do the same. Before helping your children form a healthy relationship with social media, you need to have one, too.

According to Addiction Center, 16-33 million people are addicted to social media in the United States. Do you fall into that group? If so, you should do something about it. Using social media less will not only set a good example for your kids but may improve your own life.

You might not even realize it, but too much social media isn’t a good thing. Consider taking a step back by deleting your most-used apps or setting time limits for yourself. You don’t have to go cold turkey, just be mindful.

No matter how much you try, you can’t keep your children away from social media forever. Instead of avoiding it, teach your kids how to be responsible and safe online. The tips above will help you foster a healthy relationship between your children and social media.

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