Tuesday February 2 2021

How to Help Your Kids Balance Social Media with the Real World

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NLT)

The reality, even more so in these lock down times, is that teens’ social and school lives hinge on a click. 

Homayoun shared five tips to help parents cultivate social media wellness for their kids, regardless of the current trends.

Check your kid’s phone – kids should know that parents can ask for their phones at any point and be allowed full access. Homayoun says, “It means that a parent is still responsible for monitoring what a minor does online.” And it’s not just what they put out there, it’s also what they’re receiving. If you find something you don’t like, talk to your kid about why you find it inappropriate — and then ask them what they think. Once they verbalise their thoughts, it allows them the opportunity to think things through and come up with their own set of values.

Be app-savvy – If your kid is on it, you should be, too,” Homayoun says of apps and social media platforms. “You don’t have to have an account, but at least try it out so you can have informed conversations about it. If your kids know that you understand the social media they’re using, they’re more likely to come to you to talk about issues that pop up.” 

Help kids understand their “why.” – Encourage your kids to ask themselves ‘Why am I picking up my phone? Am I bored, am I lonely, am I sad? Am I just uncomfortable because I’m in a room where I don’t know anyone?’ Or ‘Why am I posting this? Does spending time on this app make me feel energised or drained?’ It helps them make decisions that reflect their own values and choices and separate their online experiences from in-real-life ones,” she says. Asking themselves “why” also slows down impulsive online communications, and encourages kids to make smarter choices.

Set clear ground rules – Talk to your kids about appropriate use of social media before their phone is in their hand! Discuss expectations and stick to them as much as possible. Suggestions include – not putting anything online that you wouldn’t want your friends’ parents to read; getting permission before downloading a new app; and surrendering phones at bedtime. How about a family missions statement about  responsible technology usage.

Create opportunities for digital detox – and model it yourself!