Social Media and Your Child: Tips for Developing Healthy Behaviors

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted how the top “tech execs” monitor their own kids’ social media. Within the last few months, studies have indicated that too much smartphone usage and “screen time” can be detrimental. Overuse can cause restless sleep, interrupted studying and hampering of face-to-face social interactions that are so important in maintaining healthy, human relationships. Other worries include hidden security risks that may be tied to that new social media app your child just downloaded and loves. How do you keep your tween or teen safe?

There are many apps available now that can limit how long your children are on their phones, also limiting which online social media apps they can access. The chief product officer at GoDaddy makes an interesting point about relying on apps to teach children responsibility. He believes that kids need to learn to live in this world – one now filled with technology advancements likely happening with each passing day. The use of monitoring apps won’t teach children responsibility or how to make the right choices. Instead, try techniques like teaching your kids to get homework done before checking their social media apps.

Teaching time management during the tween/teen age is important. As parents, we can help our kids figure out how to schedule their most important activities accordingly. Homework, sports practice, appropriate meal planning and getting enough sleep may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an important life lesson they will also need as adults. If your child is spending too much time on social media, it can begin to affect other aspects of their daily activities.

Another important discussion item to have with your children is what they may or may not post on social media. The article states that it’s likely your child would have picked a different tattoo at the age of 3 than what they would want today. The analogy is simple: social media posts and pictures can be saved online forever. Comments made and bad decisions shared online can stay with the individual doing the posting. It’s important to realize that maturity and life experiences will change over time and as your child ages. Oversharing information online is often regretted later. Future employers, educators and others can later see what is being posted today.

There are ways to also check privacy settings on apps, keeping your son or daughter’s privacy under control. Do they want to post the latest dance to TikTok? It is possible to only post to friend groups and not everyone. Keeping a watchful eye on what apps are being used by your teen and also letting them know that advertisers are able to use information provided by apps to gather personal information. Another good idea? Ask your child to ask permission before downloading apps. This gives you time to learn about the “latest and greatest” social media trend and also if it’s safe before it’s downloaded.

Monitoring social media, allowing a certain amount of time after school to be on social media/screen time, and talking to your child about it are just some things that can be done to encourage healthy online behaviors. If you have questions about other helpful strategies that may work for you and your family, we can be reached by calling (618) 235-3211. At your child’s next visit, Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw would be happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s overall health and wellness.