The age of social media is in full swing, and we are the first generation of parents that has to deal with the ups and downs of a fad that shows no sign of slowing down. Like most technology, there is a positive and a negative side to social media.
For teens, it’s a way to maintain connections, engage in their community of peers, and build a sense of self. But it can also open the door to bullying, distraction, exposure to sexual and violent themes, and feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
Setting healthy boundaries around social media will improve your child’s emotional and physical health, as well as their academic performance. Here are some ideas for setting social media boundaries for your high school student.
How Much Time Should My Teen Spend on Social Media?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today’s children are spending an average of seven hours each day on electronic media. They recommend that parents limit screen time to one or two hours each day, and that should include all social media, texting, and gaming.
Keeping Your Teen Safe on Social Media
Everyone who uses social media creates a “digital footprint” that never disappears. Teens often lack the awareness and maturity to understand that whatever they post on social media will be around for a long time, perhaps forever. What teens post on social media could affect their college and career plans, and teens who share too much information can make themselves a target for fraud or other crimes.
Talk to your teens about the dangers of social media, including inappropriate content, bullying, and privacy settings. Remind your teens not to post personal information, and to use good judgment before sharing on social media. Keep the lines of communication open so that your teens will come to you if they ever have a problem.
Supervising Social Media Use
As a parent, it’s up to you to come up with the social media rules your teens will have to live by. It’s important to monitor social media activity — not to snoop, but to keep your kids healthy and safe online. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for many parents.
– Require full access to your kids’ social media accounts. Keep a list of usernames and passwords for all accounts, and check them periodically.
– Create social media accounts for yourself and add your kids as friends. This doesn’t mean you have to constantly interact with them or “friend” all their followers, but it will allow you to keep a closer eye on what goes on.
– Create screen-free zones. Your kids should not be using social media for hours on end while locked in their bedrooms. Keep computers where you can see them, and make sure phones are in plain sight overnight.
– Consider setting designated “no social media” times for your family. Times will be different for every family, but a dose of daily screen-free time will work wonders for kids and parents.
While social media boundaries will look different for every family, the first step is initiating honest, open discussions with your spouse and your teens. Developing healthy social media habits may take time for your teens to embrace, but in time they will thank you, and the benefits will last well into adulthood.
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