Social media has completely taken over our lives. This isn’t our opinion, it’s an indisputable fact backed up by some hard numbers.
How did you find this article? It probably popped up on your Facebook Newsfeed or you saw it pinned on a Pinterest board. You may have seen a tweet and simply had to click. Of course, you may have stumbled on it in some other way, but the fact remains that social media use is at an all-time high and only likely to grow from here.
This makes the task of talking about social media to your children difficult, if not downright impossible! How can we help them stay safe while scrolling? More importantly, how can we tell them to put down their phones and go outside, when we’re on our phone so much?
It’s a tough situation alright. We here at Real Mom Daily have put together some tips and tricks to help you talk to your kids about social media. Check them out below!
What You Want to Know Before Talking to Your Kids
The very first thing you want to do is check out the type of content your children are consuming online. This means finding out the blogs your kids read, taking a look at the pages they’re following on Facebook, seeing what groups they’re in on Facebook, checking their Instagram followers, even hopping on Snapchat and viewing their story (if you’re feeling brave!).
You’re not going to be able to do all of the above due to privacy settings, but it’s important to give your child’s social footprint a good once over. This might feel a little invasive. We get that and, truth be told, it is a bit invasive. It’s important to avoid going overboard and digitally stalking your kids. Trust us, we know the temptation!
Learning how your children are using social media is super valuable for shaping the type of conversation you’ll have with them, though. You wouldn’t go into a business meeting unprepared, right? Why go into a difficult talk with your children unprepared?
Talking About Social Media with Younger Children
The way you talk to your kids about social media is going to depend on how old they are. After all, you can’t talk to your teenager the same way you talk to you grade school child. So, when talking to younger children about social media, it’s important to:
- Avoid banning social media use altogether. Rather than taking a “just say no” approach, offer practical rules.
- Show your children these rules in practice. Teach them how to use social media responsibly.
- Stay general in your talk and in your rules. According to the University of Texas, “We don’t tell our very young children to wear their seat belts because they might fly through the windshield. We tell them it’s safe, it’s the rules, it’s the way it is. Kids trust that!”
- Remind them that anything they share on social media isn’t private. This is true even with the strictest privacy settings.
Talking About Social Media with Teens
Now that we know how to talk to our younger children about using social media, let’s take a look at how we should talk to adolescents and teenage children. This is a more difficult conversation, but also a more valuable one. Your teens are likely going to be much more active on social than your younger children.
So, remember to:
- Make your teen the expert. This pearl of wisdom also comes from the University of Texas. It’s important to let your teenager lead the conversation. Don’t just tell them they shouldn’t do X or Y. Instead, ask them if a lot of teenagers are really doing X or Y and ask them for their opinions:
- Be open about your own social media use. Show your children your profiles and posts and set an example for responsible social media use. They’re probably going to act like they don’t want to see it, but don’t worry, they’re definitely paying attention.
- Be open and honest about whether you’ll be monitoring their profiles or not. Avoiding lying to your teen at all costs!
- Talk to your teens about sexting and online dating. This isn’t an easy conversation, and it’s important to be nonjudgmental and open to anything your kids do or don’t say. Remember to ask questions rather than make statements and let them lead the conversation
There you have it: Talking to your children about social media made easy! As this becomes a hot parenting trend, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the best way to address Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and the rest with your kids.
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