Industry News

Developing Tweens’ Healthy Use of Social Media

Navigating your responsibility as a parent to teach your tween to use social media before they hit the teenage years is challenging but not impossible.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reported that 90 percent of teens between 13 and 17 years old had used social media. Knowing this statistic, it’s no question that social media plays a significant role in adolescent lives. 

Navigating your responsibility as a parent to teach your tween to use social media before they hit the teenage years is challenging but not impossible. Here are a few ways you can help your tween develop a healthy online presence. 

Highlight the Benefits but Acknowledge the Drawbacks

Social media has numerous pros and cons for tweens finding their identities. Help your child understand both sides of social media and highlight the benefits and how they can outweigh the drawbacks. 

Some social media pros to tell your tween about include: 

  • Connect with friends and family in different locations
  • Share your passions (art, sports, and so on)
  • Find groups with shared interests and meet new people

The drawbacks to social media are just as significant to acknowledge. Your tween should be aware of them if they encounter negativity online so that they can respond adequately. Encourage your tween to reach out for help if they experience anything negative online.

A few cons to social media include: 

  • Exposure to inappropriate content
  • Cyberbullying
  • Privacy concerns
  • Distraction from sleep, home life, homework 

Educate Yourself on Digital Literacy

A study conducted by BMC Public Health found that tweens who spent a lot of time on social media were unhappier than those who used social media less often. A lot of the impact on these tweens’ wellbeing later in life came from too much exposure to the negative aspects of social media. 

To help combat this, educate yourself on digital literacy and how you and your tween can positively use social media. Digital literacy involves the ability to use digital technology to find and evaluate information using cognitive skills. In essence, don’t believe everything you see or read online. 

For example, when you see an article shared on Facebook, don’t immediately assume it’s accurate. Instead, use your digital literacy skills to research for yourself.

Teach Individuality and Positive Self-Esteem

In the BMC Public Health study, researchers found that social media affected the wellbeing of girls more than boys. They surmised that this results from girls’ tendency to compare themselves to others on the internet. 

When you’re scrolling through Instagram or watching TikTok videos, you only see what the poster wants you to see. People rarely post their true selves or negative aspects of their lives online. It’s vital to remind your children of that. 

Please remind your child that comparing themself to someone on social media is futile. Teach them that every person has a unique personality, body, and life and that every person is unique and beautiful in their own ways. Teach positive self-esteem in their daily lives, and that will translate across their social media usage. 

Create Social Media Rules

An unlimited amount of social media usage is detrimental to mental health, no matter your age. You can combat this early by setting up rules for your tween and help them develop healthy habits when it comes to digital media consumption. 

Monitor your child’s usage and set consistent limits on how often they can go online each day. Make a rule to put the phone or tablet away one hour before bedtime, and don’t let them come to bed. Make sure you have access to their accounts so you can ensure they’re safe. 

Present yourself as an example to your child. Turn the TV off during dinner times, and plan media-free family activities, like game nights or walks outside. 

Communicate your social media rules with babysitters, grandparents, and other caregivers to ensure the rules stay consistent at all times. 

Final Words

Social media certainly has its dangers, but it can be a healthy and positive tool for growing teens. Knowing how to navigate your tween’s relationship with online media and teaching them healthy practices is essential. 

Use the above tips to give your child a positive social media experience and help them grow into a confident and happy individual. 

Previous

When to Let Your Child Have a Social Media Account

Back to Industry News
Next

Developing Healthy Social Media Use for Teenagers