Today’s world is much different than the way most parents were raised. Social media has opened a whole new realm for raising children. Many parents worry that their children will be negatively affected by social media and wonder, “how do you raise kids in the age of social media?”
Here’s a guide to help you raise your children in this digital age.
No matter the age of the child, the first thing to do when introducing them to social media is to set the privacy settings. Every social media platform has a privacy setting. Your child’s should be set to the strictest settings. You still need to monitor their friends and posts, but this should give you peace of mind knowing random strangers cannot see their posts.
Set Time Limits
Almost any age of kid loves the screen. They could spend hours watching YouTube, scrolling social media, or chatting with friends online. Set a time limit, so they don’t waste their days and nights in this “fake” world. Work together to find a time that works for both of you. Let them enjoy social media without it taking over their life. Give them a set amount of screen time a day, so they’re able to get things done outside the screen world. You can even use something like Instagram’s Activity Dashboard to control their usage. Remember, it’s easy to get sucked in the social media world, so always know what your child is doing online and how long they’ve been doing it.
How Much Is Too Much Monitoring?
Many parents grew up in a world that wasn’t documented all day, every day. Kids sometimes have a tough time when everything is out there because there is no room for mistakes.
Today’s kids are splashed all over the internet. It’s critical to monitor their activities. However, remember that micro-managing their every move can be tough for their development. You want to have a level of trust. If they haven’t broken your trust, let them live a little.
If they’re older, take a backseat and let them drive a little. They may surprise you. Give room for slipups every once in a while. Don’t get on their case whenever you have the opportunity.
One positive thing about raising children in the world of social media is they’re able to stay connected with friends. Many of us grew up waiting on pen pal letters or calls from those far away. Now, they can easily reach out to friends when they need to.
If children miss class, they’re able to log in many times and talk to others about assignments. Holidays and summer don’t seem so long away from friends when they can easily comment and chat with each other via social media.
Feeling Left Out
Social media, despite its many benefits, has its disadvantages too. For one, it’s easy for kids to feel excluded when they see their friends having fun without them — or when they see other kids enjoying things they don’t have. This can cause worry, stress, and even anxiety for some children.
It’s important to talk to your kids about this issue. Help them understand that while Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a legit concern, they shouldn’t let that fear rule their lives. Don’t let them find their worth and happiness from other people and especially on social media.
Watch Your Words
Kids need to understand words are powerful. It’s important to talk to them about being kind on the internet. Furthermore, they must learn that other people may interpret the things they post online differently. When they receive mean and negative comments, talk to them, and ask them how they feel. Go through the process together. Make them understand that any post is open for judgment or criticism from someone else. They can’t control what others will say, but they can control how they will react to it.
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
Even as adults, we learn that comparison is often the thief of joy. Your child may feel like others are better than them because their accomplishments are displayed across social media.
Young children might see one of their friends riding a bike when they can’t even get on their own bikes with training wheels. Teenagers may see a friend snag a Homecoming date while they’re going solo.
It’s hard not to compare yourself with others. Make sure to talk to your child about comparing themselves with everyone else. Explain that if they do this, they won’t see their own successes and appreciate their wins — no matter how little or simple these may seem. Let them know that they’re only seeing the “highlight reel” of life when looking at someone’s social media page.
Social media creates a digital footprint and that footprint could remain online forever. Teach them how to be responsible social media users. Let them know the things that are safe to share online and the things that should be kept private.
Don’t Let Your Child Become an Attention-Seeker
Likes and comments don’t mean anything in the real world. But online, they could mean the world — especially to kids who may be turning to social media for validation.
As a parent, you have to be vigilant in spotting the signs that your kids have turned to social media to seek attention. Help them realize they’re worth a whole lot more than how many “likes” they get, or how many online friends they have. Explain to them that they don’t need to follow the social media world of JoJo Siwa or Kylie Jenner.
Forcing Fun To Go Viral
Help your children realize they don’t have to follow the latest craze or do the newest “challenge” to show how fun they can be. Teach them that authenticity and being yourself is more important than jumping on the bandwagon.
There’s no perfect guide to parenting in the world of social media. We have a lot to learn as technology changes, and new social media platforms pop up. Stay updated and always talk with your children about their social media life. Let them know that you’re just right there when they need you.