Thank you for taking the next step on the path to your child's healthy relationship with social media. We hope these suggestions will give you the footing you need to ensure your child's well-being in our culture's technological landscape. Many of these options are activities and decisions that you can make as a family to bring everyone together.
The first thing you can do to teach your young child about responsible social media usage is to model what a healthy relationship with your phone looks like. Little ones often feel like they are competing with smartphones for their parents' attention. Show your kids that people in the room matter more to you than virtual connections. This also creates more bonding time in those in-between moments of every day.
When they are first learning to navigate the online world, keep the technology in a central space so that you know where your child is going online and how long they are logged on. Learn what your child is up to by observing what they do. This also helps you to easily intervene if you feel that your child is spending too much continuous time online.
Discuss with your kids what cyberbullying is and how to recognize it.1 Prepare yourself for the day where your child is the one being the bully. Help them understand that even though being online makes us feel anonymous and able to say whatever we want, those words do have very real consequences on others.
This is something that should be a part of the larger conversation you have with your kids about sex. It is important for your child to understand that what they send to others can be saved. Also, establish yourself as a safe space for your child in the event that others initiate sexting with them. Make sure that your adolescent knows how to block users.
Keep the conversation open about social media. Ask what they enjoy doing on the computer, who they talk to, or what apps and sites they like. Be sure to discuss what kind of content is unsafe for online sharing. Stay in the loop and foster interpersonal social skills with your child by having regular conversations about their social networking.
Make playdates. Go for walks. Take the teens to laser tag. Help your children see physical activity as a reward or special opportunity for bonding time. This will work a lot better than making your kids go outside every two hours and will help them associate fitness with fun rather than punishment.
Educate yourself about what the various social media websites are and how they function.2 Make an account and friend your child online. It's helpful to have a window into your child's online profiles. If this means you have to promise not to tag them in embarrassing baby photos, keep that promise. Knowing what they're sharing online is more important than a good teasing.
Help your kids sleep better with a Power Down Hour rule. Have everyone put away their phones for the hour before bedtime. This will help them fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully. Establish limits on when your kids are allowed to be online.3 For example, family dinners can be a time to socialize with each other instead of with a screen.