Social media is here to stay. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that today’s kids use social media to communicate with peers, experiment with social skills, share self-expression with like minds, and to develop their own identity. According to Pew Research 81% of children 9 to 17 visit social media sites daily. Regulating children’s social media use can be a daunting task for parents especially when they are raising them between two homes.
Discussion Between Co-Parents
- Discussion regarding expectations and limitations of their children’s’ social media use between co-parents is a helpful first step. A team approach to social media with clear guidelines and consequences of misuse can encourage healthy online choices. Discussion items include: What is going to be allowed to be shared online and what will be off-limits, “good” posts versus “bad” ones, what is considered a sexual comment, a rant, or cyber bullying. Being good online role models for children is a parent’s best deterrent for preventing possible online mishaps.
Put an Agreement in Place
- After coming to agreement regarding social media standards in both homes, parents should then talk to their kids about the details of the parents’ plan. Be sure to include the three-step rule of posting: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?
Monitor Online Accounts and Activity
- Tech savvy kids have been known to set up additional social media accounts that are out of parents per view. Let children know that there is an expectation that only one account of each social networking platform will be used. “Fakebooks” will not be tolerated. Parents will have log in and password information for each account.
Teach Internet Safety
- Since most social media sites have required account information such as email address and birthday, remind your children to pay attention if an email for lost password is received from the site, as identity thieves hack victims account by attempting to reset a lost password and using their personal information. Discuss privacy issues surrounding social media sites can invade private information as well as contact lists such as Kik Messenger or their photos such as Instagram direct. Also remind them that most social media sites collect location data. Set security settings as restricted as the platform allows.
Encourage Social Media Detox
- Be sure to schedule face to face interactions with friends and family without electronic devices. Interactions “In real time” are still the best way for children to improve communication and maintain relationships.