Dear Friends,

While the good news is that our teens today are less likely to smoke, do drugs and get pregnant, they are more likely to be at risk for loneliness and depression than they were 20 years ago. But now, our kids spend fewer hours playing outdoors and socializing in-person, and when they sit next to their friends texting instead of talking, it does give us pause.  

Whether social media is fueling our mental health crisis is yet to be determined. However, it doesn’t take years of research and clinical studies to know that it is drastically re-shaping teen culture. From the preoccupation with the number of likes and followers to the new dating etiquette, we parents are out of our league. Afterall, as my daughter so often reminds me, I was born in the 1900s!  

Making the effort to understand the world our teens now live in can only behoove us as parents. Here, we’ve compiled our gold star advice based on our research and dozens of conversations with experienced parents. We’re here to help at any point — you can always text us at: 8-HIFAF-GOT-U!

With best wishes,

 

 

Julie Paul

Founder

TABLE OF CONTENTS D.N.T.

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#1 Boost Your Social Media Savvy

The first steps to supporting your teen’s digital life are:
  • Familiarizing yourself with the platforms your teen frequents 
    • Know the key features of each platform
    • Why they’re so appealing
    • What the potential concerns are
  • Knowing how social media is changing teen culture from friend etiquette to the new dating dynamic 
  • Knowing what is the recommended amount of time for social media use and guidelines for sleep and exercise

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#2  Establish a Family Agreement to Set Guidelines

  • Make your expectations clear
    • Set parameters around appropriate usage and followers (e.g. what to share, secret accounts, digital citizenship, etc.)
  • Teach your child to be mindful when sharing
    • Consider how their posts might be received (college admissions officers routinely review social media accounts as do future employers)
    • Consider how their posts may affect others
  • The importance of protecting personal information  
    • Closely guard email, phone number and credit card information
    • Identity theft can happen
  • Consequences for misuse 

The time invested is well worth the return!

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#3  Set Limits to Teach Self-Regulation

  • Discuss limiting use to 1-2 platforms and capping the amount of time spent on each to ~ 30 minutes
  • Encourage your teens to turn their phone off to minimize distractions during homework, time with family and friends, and sleep
  • Ask your teens about how they feel after over indulging in social media

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#4 Teach Teens to Safeguard Their Privacy

  • Review privacy settings for all the major platforms that your teen frequents
    • Minimize unwanted contact by ensuring account is set to private
  • Know what personal information is being shared
    • Be sure to restrict phone number and email address
    • Turn off geotagging on the phone’s camera to protect your home address

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#5 Communicate Openly and Often

  • Share your concerns. Discuss how:
    • Overuse leads to lower social emotional well-being
    • Social media was designed to be addictive
  • Be upfront about how you’ll be monitoring their social media activity
  • Give your teen real life examples of social media brouhahas and ask your teen how he or she would handle it 
  • Check-in every few weeks 
    • Have a conversation about how it’s going — your perceptions and theirs
    • Build trust so that your teen feels comfortable sharing the highs and the lows

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#6  Know Which Tools Can Help You

  • Use our Time-Wise Calculator to help your teens realize how limited their free time is and how to budget time for social media accordingly
  • To set time limits,  introduce tools such as:
    • Apple’s Screen Time (for iOS 12 devices) to limit social media apps 
    • Bark to monitor your teens’ social media accounts 24/7 
      • It notifies you if it’s algorithms detect potentially concerning activity 
      • Teens feel their privacy is protected because parents only see the activity that has been flagged
    • OurPact can help you set daily time limits for all social media apps, allows you to set multiple schedules, and lock down devices at your discretion
  • A password management system to keep track of teens’ social media account passwords
    • Apple Notes allows you to protect passwords by creating:
      • A locked note 
      • A shared note

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