Tips for parents

Navigating Social Media for Youth

8 September 2021

According to the Mayo Clinic, by the time children are 13 years old, 97% of them have an online social media presence in some form, and nearly half of the teens from a 2018 Pew Research Center survey reported being online “nearly constantly.” In the 21st century, social media has become akin to the drive-in theater of the 60s. It’s where social interactions, connections, relationships, and entertainment activities occur, with many benefits. Parents need to implement developmentally appropriate, safe, and win-win strategies for their children regarding the above.

There are certainly benefits of social media. As adults, parents use social media to communicate via Facebook for personal use, LinkedIn for business connections, and even YouTube for home improvement! In general, social media enables you to connect with people with similar interests, enhance self-expression safely, interact with diverse individuals, and be exposed to new ideas or cultures. There are many learning opportunities in which students can take advantage. Young people get most news and stay up to date with current events via social media. Older generations did not have accessible media to educate themselves on the world around them.

However, for every aspect that social media can shine a light on new experiences or individuals, it has a dark side that parents should not ignore.. While YouTube may be valid for education, it can also be where young children are exposed to inappropriate content. Yes, Facebook Messenger may be an excellent place for children to interact supervised, but adults need to know who their children are with online. There are hours of distracting videos for every TikTok video teaching phonics skills through a catchy tune that can keep children from healthier off-screen activities.

Parenting Social Media Tips for Primary-Age Students:

Social media for young students should be all about digital citizenship and safety. There should be no expectation of any privacy for young children on social media; parents need to set up, manage, and supervise all social media accounts for their children. The more parents can be present while their children are on social media, the more they can coach, guide, and redirect at the moment, changing behavior and educating young children on appropriate online behavior. There should be solid dos and Don’ts for young children, including not giving out personal information, never talking to someone they don’t know online, and reviewing apps and conversations young children have with others, even friends. These safety skills will serve them well as they grow older.


Parenting Social Media Tips for a sec. 1 to sec. 3:

Tweens should still be encouraged to have “real life” experiences with friends, which will help, particularly those students who are more at risk of having anxiety. Parents must set boundaries and expectations with their teens, including the amount of screen time, privacy settings on devices, whether or not a teen can be on social media alone, or if a cell phone/tablet is allowed to be in their bedroom after bedtime.

The more teens know of the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding social media, the better their behavior will be adjusted. The more proactive and infirmed parents are regarding social media presence, the better parents will address their child’s behavior and related issues adequately.


Parenting Social Media Tips for Teenagers:

It’s okay to allow teenagers to have more privacy online to extend trust. Still, it’s also important to set reasonable limits on that privacy and viewing appropriate content or using appropriate language. Do discuss with your teen how to keep social media from interfering with their activities, sleep, meals, or homework. Encourage teens to have a bedtime routine that excludes electronic media use and keep cell phones and tablets out of their bedrooms. This can be most effective when parents set an example by following these rules in their own lives. Keep an eye on your teen’s accounts. Let them know that you will be checking their social media accounts regularly. You could try to do it once a week or more. Ensure that you follow through and discuss anything questionable or concerning in a non-accusatory manner, seeking to understand and using any suspicious online activity as a learning experience. Explain that unacceptable online behavior is just as actual as inappropriate in-person behavior. Encourage your teen not to spread rumors or intentionally harm someone’s reputation, whether online or in person. Educate them about the appropriate and safe content to share on social media. For older students, this includes pictures of themselves or others. Talk about the adverse effects of social media. For example, remind your child that what they see on social media are not always authentic images — body image, lifestyle image, money image, and “perfect” personas.