The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report showing the benefits of social media to teenagers in 2011. It published negative impacts too, but mostly, the organization discussed how helpful Facebook was for young people.
Fast forward to 2019 and nearly all studies depict social media as a place where kids get exposed to harmful content, bullying and age-inappropriate posts. If you’re concerned about how social media may impact your child, here are ways to protect him or her.
#1: Restrict Access for Pre-teens
Most social networks, including Facebook state kids below 13 years, should not join their platforms. But in an era where kids have email addresses and cell phone numbers, social networks can’t stop kids from creating accounts.
However, you can prevent your child from creating an Instagram account quickly. You could authorize your child not to download the app, or you could block it from play stores. Both Google and Apple allow you to controls which apps your kids can download.
Of course, you also don’t have to allow your kid to get a Facebook account immediately they reach 13 years. You could explain to them why it’s essential to take time before trying social networks. There are plenty of other ways to seek entertainment for kids, anyway.
#2: Encourage real-life interactions
Most kids use social media to find friends and chat because they barely interact with their friends in real life. Figure out how to encourage your kids to get off social media and play with their friends. Enroll them in sports clubs or reading clubs to foster their social skills.
Kids that spend less time on social media can be a lot more productive in the long run. Participating in sports, for example, keeps them healthy and can help nurture their talents. Spending time with school mates, on the other hand, can help them foster friendships that can last for years.
#3: Use Parental Control Software
These days, technology helps with nearly all aspects of life. With the right software, you can limit access to any social network at the click of a button. If you think Snapchat has a negative influence on your daughter, block it with one tap. If you believe twitter is too political for your 12-year-old son, filter it out.
Programs like Qustodio parental control can help you manage everything your child does with smart devices. From video games to the Internet, social media to mobile apps; you only need one program to help you control your child’s screen time.
And considering there are plenty of other things besides social media, you would want to monitor, consider purchasing a parental control. It takes a few minutes to set up one program, including listing all sites and app you no longer want your child to access. And if they try to access these platforms, the software will email you.
#4: Spend more time with Kids
A recent study shows kids that spend more time with their parents are happier than those who rarely interact with their parents. That includes teens and young adults in college. It could take a couple of hours of your busy schedule, but it can help mould your child in the right way.
Experts suggest that when you interact with your kids, do things they love. Watch a movie or play a video game with them. They may beat you at Fortnite, but they’ll always love you for showing interest in what they do.
#5: Warn them about the Impact of social media
In 2017, Harvard University canceled applications for a group of students that shared offensive posts on social media. Several more colleges have since then admitted to monitoring how their potential students use social networks.
Unless you don’t care about the future of your child, teach her they’re consequences to what they post on social media. This way, you help instill a sense of responsibility in them. They can use Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter however they want. But because they understand there could be repercussions for what they post, they will be more responsible.
#6: Check what they Post Regularly
Telling your child not to share her private photos is one thing. Ensuring she doesn’t share them is a different thing altogether. Actively monitor what your child posts by following their accounts. Take the devices at times and confirm their privacy settings.
But if taking away the phones sounds too intrusive, use the parental control software we mentioned above. A good program sends you frequent emails of what your child posts. Some even monitor their text messages and will send you contact details of whomever your kid talks to at night.
Of course, it’s best to talk to your son or daughter about why it’s necessary that you check their phones frequently. If they resist, let parental controls help you control how they use social media.
#7: Create Rules and Social Media Schedules
Social media can be addictive. And if your child can’t help herself off Facebook or Instagram, it might be time that you used a different approach to help them. Start by creating a schedule so that they know when they should log into their accounts and when they should study.
Use parental control apps to help them get off social networks quickly. The apps will log your kids out of Instagram after a specific time limit. But for extra motivation, create consequences for breaking your house rules.
You can turn social media access into a privilege that’s only given to those who do house chores or fulfill other requirements. You will face resistance at first. But over time, your rules could help your child become more responsible with their overall digital life.
It’s becoming increasingly challenging to control what content children access. They have smartphones, tablets and laptops or could access them through friends. While at home, talk to them and instill a sense of responsibility.
Consider using parental controls to ensure your kids actually log out of their Instagram accounts after some time. Again, create rules and consequences for using social networks for the wrong reasons.