How Do I prepare for Social Media?
Social Media – A Big Challenge for Parents
Social media presents one of the biggest challenges in Parenting Technology today, and parents are well-advised to be prepared. There are so many headlines that too much social media can lead to anxiety, depression and body image issues. While the actual facts are murky, here’s what seems most clear:
- Time spent on social media takes time away from other activities such as sleep. As a result, the lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and depression
- Teens with existing mental health and social issues are most vulnerable to the downsides of social media
There is also evidence which supports that social media in small doses can actually build connection. When problems arise, they’re most often linked to overuse. Comparatively, the happiest users limit themselves to ~30 minutes on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Beyond health concerns, are the social dynamics — who’s oversharing, who’s being snarky or intentionally exclusive. At what point does this behavior cross the line into bullying territory? Subsequently, there are also the issues of body image, narcissism, and self-aggrandizement which are more common on Instagram than other platforms.
Getting Social Media Ready
Based on feedback from our experienced Friends, we think it’s best to prepare for social media by having open conversations. Beginning in the pre-teen years will afford you the time to help kids become social media-ready. These conversations include:
1. Sharing your concerns about depression, anxiety and body image issues. For these reasons, you will be keeping a watchful eye and setting time limits
2. Discussing real-life social media brouhahas. Ask your kids what they think and what they would do — these can make for very engaged conversations 🙂
3. There is no such thing as “an online life.” Whomever they’ve befriended in-person is who they’re friends with online. Communicating via social media apps and texting is the same as talking on the telephone. There is no anonymity
Just Before Social Media Launch
Before downloading Tiktok, Instagram, or other social media apps, remind them to:
1. Always think about how their online activity affects others
- How will their posts make others feel? If they’re posting about a fun event, will others feel left out? If they’re excited about a big accomplishment, will they appear boastful?
- When they’re active online, are they ignoring friends in-person?
2. Think before sharing (88% of teens think other teens are guilty of oversharing):
- Always consider the messages they’re sending as well as the frequency of postings
- As a result of poor decisions on social media, college admissions decisions have been revoked and employers have rejected candidates
3. Remember that people tend to post the best moments in their lives, not the worst
4. Update your Family Agreement to make sure that all expectations are clearly defined:
- How much time is allowed on social media
- Rules around opening accounts, creating new profiles, and accepting follow requests
Likely, as a result of these conversations and taking the above steps, you’ll feel more ready to handle social media yourself! To further prepare you, Our Social Media Roadmap can help you get up-to-speed on the major issues at a pace that best suits you. And once your kids are active on social media, you’ll want to have your monitoring plan in place. This has now become part of the Parenting Technology job.