Frequently Asked Questions About Social Media For Parents

  • How do I know if social media is a problem for my child? When do I know if they are addicted?

    • Is social media adding value to their life?

    • Gaming Disorder criteria from WHO can be applied to social media 1. Impaired control 2. Rather game than do other activities 3. Continued uses in spite of negative consequences

    • Signs of addiction: cravings, withdrawal, tolerance

 

  • How do I help my child as a parent?

    • Talk openly with your child about social media use. Hear their perspective without judgement and express your perspective leaving emotion out. Be empathetic and use reason and logic.

    1. Set clear and consistent boundaries for when and how social media will be used.

    2. Promote real-life relationships and activities when child is offline.

    3. Have ongoing conversations about healthy social media and tech use. Involve kid’s perspective.

    • Most importantly, be the positive role model of social media and tech use.

 

  • What are healthy boundaries or limits for social media?

    • ​From the American Academy of Pediatrics:

      • From ages 2-5 years old 1-hour of high-quality programs (I.e. Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood). Parents should co-view program with their child to reiterate what they learned.

      • Kids 6 and older, screens should have consistent boundaries and not interfere with adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.

      • Use AAP Family Media Plan to calculate healthy screen use for you teen and family https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx

  • What are practical ways I can enforce boundaries?

    • Talk with child about rules prior to enforcing it. Give a waring if possible.

    • If needed, use a phone contract. Click here for an example.

    • Use parental control apps: Screen Time, unGlue, OurPact, etc.

    • Disable Wi-Fi.

    • Take away access to the device. Take away power cords, chargers, and/or the device itself.

    • Use rewards when positive choices were made - allow child to pick dinner, movie, or game.

    • Be consistent.

  • What age should I give my child a phone or let them use social media?

    • It depends on their maturity level and environment. Are they mature enough to handle the responsibility of keeping this expensive device safe, not text in class, make healthy choices online, and not become consumed and hyper-focused on the device? If so, then it could be worth a conversation about getting a phone.

    • Around middle and high school, social media becomes a big part of a child's social life. Not giving your child any access to social media might isolate them from peers.

    • Talk with other parents about it to see what they are doing.

    • It’s okay to wait until you see they are ready.

    • When they do get a phone, set boundaries and guidelines. Continue to have open discussions with them about their tech use. Talk with them, not at them. They will listen to you more.

  • Should I know their password and see what they are posting?

    • Knowing the password for your child's social media account(s) ensures you know exactly what they are doing. If you feel you must know exactly what they are doing online because you don't trust them, then they probably should not be online by themselves to begin with.

    • Knowing your child's social media account password breaks trust. It's saying you don't trust them to make healthy decisions by themselves.

    • Focus on improving your relationship with your child or teen and help them make healthy decisions themselves. Empower them by praising them when they make positive choices online. Having a parent verses child dynamic is not effective in guiding your child to make healthy choices online.

    • Add your child as a friend on the social media platform. That way you don’t have to invade their privacy but still know what they are posting.

    • You ultimately cannot completely control your teen on or offline. Guide, mentor, and teach your teen to make good decisions.

 

 

For additional information on helping our kids navigate healthy screen use, read Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive in Their Digital World by Dr. Devorah Heitner.