So, your child has a Facebook account, but now she wants Twitter, too. That’s not enough — her friends pin their favorite everything on Pinterest and just have to click Instagram photos, too. What’s a mom to do?
Figuring out how much social media is too much for your child, while keeping your head on straight, isn’t easy.
There’s a lot of information on the web as far as internet safety, but what about time management? Once you decide which social media site(s) your child will have access to — and create their privacy settings while reminding them that nothing in a post on the internet ever goes away — it’s time to decide how much time they’re allowed to spend on social media.
There are only so many hours in a day! Social media time shouldn’t take up all of your child’s time, but it’s really easy to get carried away — not just kids, but parents, too. Forget about having multiple social media accounts — when my son had a Facebook account, I spent a lot of time checking his page and worrying about what “friends” may be posting or messaging, and it was starting to drive me crazy.
“As parents, it’s our job to help our kids set healthy habits for electronics use and that starts by establishing when it’s acceptable to use electronics, regardless of how many email accounts, social media profiles, video games or chat groups they participate in,” says technology expert Andrea Eldridge.
Partnering with your kids
“It’s important that teenagers be given the reasons behind your choices, not just arbitrary rules,” says Eldridge. “Reducing distractions to improve school work and allow family together time are great reasons to limit overall electronics use. If, for example, the house rule is no more than two hours a day spent with leisure electronics activities, your teen’s choice to spend those two hours playing Wii is theirs to make — it just means they won’t have time to update their Facebook status about it. Some parents have found success with a system to earn additional screen time through chore completion, reading or physical activities which would allow a kid that got carried away and used up their time to ‘buy’ a few extra minutes.”
Saying “no” to social media is OK
Bottom line? If your child is new to social media, start slowly — choose just one form of social media at first. Maybe set them up with a basic Facebook page with privacy settings intact. Or try pinning a favorite recipe or craft project on Pinterest together, making social media a family activity.
If your child is spending way too much time on social media, don’t be afraid to deactivate their accounts, even for a short time. I deactivated my son’s Facebook nearly one year ago and he hasn’t asked to reinstate it yet. He’s fine with texting, and I’m less stressed out about social media use.