For teens, social media has quickly become one of the main ways they connect with one another and it can make up a lot of our time spent on devices. The following guide can help you and your kids discuss the positives and negatives of social media so that together you can decide how it fits into your lives.
If your kids already use social media, start by asking them how they use social media to make real, positive connections. Share your own experiences. What have been some of the benefits that you’ve experienced with social media use?
What do your kids believe to be some of the downsides of social media? Have they seen or heard of anyone using social media in a way that has hurt someone else or have they seen or heard of anyone getting bullied? Again, share your own experiences. Also, talk about the “fear of missing out” that social media can cause, and how it’s a common feeling among kids and adults alike.
Finally, if your kids are ready to start using social media or are already on it, talk about how to know when it might be time to take a break. Explore ways they can stay connected with friends during these times.
Just like getting their own device, not every kid is ready to use social media. Make the call based on your kid’s ability to handle the responsibility and the complexity of using social media appropriately.
Most platforms have age requirements (generally 13 years old), but in some cases, peers might have access to social media through their parents, older siblings, or otherwise.
There are different ways to use social media. Help your kids choose an approach that is positive for themselves and their relationships with others.
Devorah Heitner, PhD
“Active mentorship is crucial for kids in the digital age. We want to teach kids to do the right thing, not "catch" them doing the wrong thing.”
Together with your kids, create a list of 5-10 positive things your kids could do using social media. This could be sharing something about anti-bullying, sending a nice message to a relative, or even as simple as liking a friend’s photo. If they’re ready to start using social media, have them practice by checking off items on this list. Note: Remember that most social media platforms have a minimum age requirement of 13 years.