Today kids spend on average of five and a half hours each day online. That might be texting, FaceTiming, Snapchatting, and gaming. Where, when, what and how much is okay? Social media plays a big part of your children’s lives. There can be pros and cons to social media. Knowing how to support your children in learning how to navigate their life using technology is your job as parents. What does that mean?
Technology advances grow and develop at an increasingly rapid pace. How are we supposed to keep up as parents? Great question! Here’s the answer: communicate with your child and be present in what they are using on their device. Don’t put blinders on, and yes you might have to do some research on your own.
Three W’s to remember are Where, When and What. By keeping track of these three things you will help your child be successful at using technology. They will know expectations and how to communicate in a productive way using their device. You will also feel more comfortable being knowledgeable on these three things.
You know best as the parent. Having certain expectations is important for the entire family. You can limit where they use it. Limiting it to certain areas is a proactive thing to do. You decide if it is something they need in certain areas. Do they need it in their bedroom, family room, at the kitchen table, or in the car? Once you set up the expectations it is much easier for everyone. It creates good habits for children too.
Communicate with your child on where they can use it and why. Make sure to let them know it isn’t that you don’t trust them, but there are many other people using technology that are not using it for good. You are being present so that you can support them when or if someone is reaching out to them on their device that isn’t appropriate.
When should they have access to social media or their device? Do they need it before school or in the morning, at dinner, before bed or when? What are your expectations? Think about how it will affect them and what the purpose is when they are using it. It will change based on the ages of your children too.
Role model when it should be used. For example, if you are not allowing them to use it at the dinner table then you shouldn’t be using your device at the dinner table. Our kids watch us more than we realize.
It is important to know what is being used on the device and to have systems set up so children cannot get into apps that are not appropriate for them. You, as a parent, need to set that up and continue to monitor what they are using and why. There are games and apps that benefit children because they were created for that age group.
Be aware of age limitations on certain apps. For example, Snapchat has the minimum age of 13. So children under that age should not be using Snapchat. Make sure to research to see what the minimum age is for the apps your kids want. There are reasons apps have these specifications. Also, it doesn’t mean just because your child is thirteen they should have all apps that are designed for that age. You determine, as the parent, which ones are useful and manageable by your family.
The time on social media should be limited. The word to use is balance. Children should have a balance of social media, play, and being outside. It is important to make sure there is balance for what they do throughout the day.
SOCIAL MEDIA SOLUTIONS
Tips on how to parent children in using social media:
- Consistently monitor your child’s technology use.
- Limit screen time: Have a certain amount of time that your child is given to use their device daily.
- Set a timer: It is helpful to both you and your child to have a visual.
- Utilize a basket: At times when technology is not an option, have a specific place for the devices to be placed. Like a basket or on the counter.
- Be knowledgeable on apps: Know what apps or games are on the device. Sit with your child while they are using their device so you are present both physically and socially.
- Organized: Be sure to stay organized and consistent on the use of each device. Children know how and when to push the limits.
Remember that you need to control technology and recognize it as a privilege you offer to your children, not a right. Your child’s behavior will determine what freedom or limits you set.
All technology influences your child in some way, so here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much time do they spend online, texting?
- Who are they talking to and what are they talking about?
- Who is influencing them?
- How is technology influencing their behavior?
- How much time do they spend isolated online or away from family/friends?
Most importantly, remember, you are their role model. It is up to you to put down your phone, iPad or laptop during those times when family is first. Children look at what we do as much what we say.
If you are still struggling with where, when, what and how much of social media is okay for your child, let’s talk. Sometimes it helps to have someone to listen and offer a different perspective. Parent coaching can help you with these challenges and provide support for you and ultimately your child. Learn more and schedule a coaching session today!
Who’s In Charge Of Technology At Your House?
By Dr. Kim Grengs, Ed. D., Parent Coach