The popularity of social media is ever clearer now, and it worries parents to some extent. Ever since the rise in social media’s popularity in 2014, it has gotten a big part of our lives. We, and our children, use social media to communicate with our friends, find new ones, or simply share documents. Apps like Instagram and TikTok have made social media much more addictive than it needs to be. If you go to the Explore tab on these apps, you’ll see one video after another, all of which are tailored to your taste to make you spend more time on that app every day. If we, the parents, get addicted to social media, what can we expect of our children? One method to keep children off of social media for a while is to control how much time they spend on them. Now, if you’re wondering, “how can I control my child’s social media usage? It’s not like they’ll let me just take their phone away.” We got just the solution.
What options do you have for controlling children’s social media use
- convincing your kids that spending too much time on social media is bad for their health and that they need to limit it to a couple of hours a day
- limiting their access to social media through different parental control apps.
- giving them attractive and fun alternatives to do, such as outdoor activities.
Not to forget there are risks children should know about before using social media, which we’ll explain later. So, keep reading this article to learn more about the dangers of social media and how you can control your child’s social media usage.
The Dangers of Social Media
Social media use in children has many negative effects on children, such as not being able to get important social cues or developing problematic digital habits like online harassment. Let’s see what experts say about the dangers of social media for children.
As the name suggests, cyberbullying is simply the act of bullying through social media or text messages. Children who spend a lot of time online are likely to chat with strangers as a means to find new friends. This increases their chance of coming across a cyberbully who’s going to bully them and make them feel bad about themselves or depressed. This can damage children’s mental health all throughout their adulthood (maybe even forever). One of the signs that your child is being cyberbullied is extreme changes in their behavior. If you see your child’s grades dropping all of a sudden or you see that they’re having a hard time concentrating, it means that they’re probably being cyberbullied.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is one’s obsession with their appearance and being extra focused on their body’s flaws which results in great emotional distress. People who are dealing with body dysmorphia are at a bigger risk of having their situation worsened by being on social media for too long. In recent years, we have evolved into societies obsessed with our appearances and our bodies’ shapes. This, combined with spending hours on social media looking at models who’ve spent years looking the way they do, worsens BDD in people who already have the condition. It’s only natural to want to look or dress like the people you think look good, but not if it results in depression and low self-esteem.
There are many predators on almost all social media platforms that are a danger to children’s well-being. These predators usually disguise their online self as a young child who is looking for a friend to hang out with. This has become a very concerning issue for parents since no one can know whether the person they’re talking to is a predator or not. By controlling your child’s activity on social media, you can make sure they’re not talking to online predators.
Now is the time to learn which methods work best for keeping your kids from the dangers of social media and finally answer your original question, “how can I control my child’s social media use?”
Methods for Controlling Children’s Social Media Usage
As a parent, you should know how you can control your child’s social media usage. Although we can’t explore every possible method, we can explore the most effective ones that have proven to work. Let’s see what choices you have and what their benefits are.
Share a Social Media Account
One of your methods for keeping your child safe online is sharing an account with them. You can make an account and have both you and your child on it so that you can monitor it. By using this method, you can see who your child talks to and check to see if there’s anything harmful going on in the chat. You can check out the profile of the person they’re chatting to or even read their entire conversation. One thing you have to keep in mind is that you must keep any information you get from their chats to yourself. Otherwise, your child won’t trust you anymore and could possibly log out of the shared account and never use it again. So, be very careful when using this method.
Start With Calls & Texts
Some of the dangers of social media can be avoided if your child understands what you expect of them when they’re on their phone. If you only let your child text their friends or call them and give them feedback while they do so, they can understand what you expect of them. After you feel like they know how to use their phone and be safe while doing so, slowly give them access to the internet. Start by giving them access to their favorite websites and slowly transition to giving them access to the whole internet.
Encouraging Outdoor Activities
You must remember going out and playing with your friends from dusk till dawn. Well, that’s not what kids are doing nowadays. They spend most of their time behind their phone or their gaming console. A good piece of advice that could help them get off social media and have some real-life fun would be to encourage outdoor activities. Playing with other children their age would help them develop social skills. Also, if they spend time with you, their parent, it will make the bond between the two of you stronger.
Use Built-in Settings for Limiting Screentime
One of the ways you can control your child’s social media usage is by controlling the amount of time they spend on their phones. This reduces their chance of being exposed to age-inappropriate content or being cyberbullied. Depending on their device’s operating system, you can use the built-in settings to set screen time limits. Android phones usually have a setting called digital well-being, which allows you to limit screentime, and warns the device’s user 10 minutes before their time is up. On Apple products, just look for the setting named Screen Time and set the restrictions that it offers, depending on what you want to restrict.
Use Parental Control Apps
Another method that is extremely effective is using parental control apps such as Safes. These apps allow you to control all aspects of your child’s phone usage, including social media. You can use block social media apps altogether to make sure they’re not even on social media. Or, you can set screen time limitations that block the device completely after the daily screen time is reached. Another feature that parental control apps like Safes offer is Geofencing. This feature allows parents to set different restrictions on children’s phones when they enter or leave green zones that are predefined by the parent.
As a whole, parental control apps are the future of keeping children safe online and can make the process of controlling children’s social media usage much more time-efficient.
Summary: How Can I Control My Child’s Social Media Usage?
Social media apps collect information from your phone in a way that allows them to tailor the content you see according to your interests. This helps them become more addictive by the day, and while this is kind of okay for adults, it’s not at all okay for kids and is even harmful. The mental effects of social media on children’s health are numerous, and they include being cyberbullied, unknowingly talking to online predators, developing body dysmorphic disorder, and even becoming anxious. Not to worry, though; you have different methods to keep your children safe from the harmful effects of social media.
You can try sharing a social media account with them to keep a close eye on what they’re doing and who they’re talking to. Another method is to encourage outdoor activities so that your child develops the social skills they need and would miss out on had they never gotten off social media. You can additionally try parental control apps such as Safes to make sure you’re giving your child total online security and privacy.
If you’re not convinced that you should control kids’ social media usage, look at the teenage social media usage statistics. Teens are using social media for seven to eight hours a day. And as for kids’ social media usage statistics, they’re using it for four to five hours a day.
We hope this article has answered your question, “how can I control my child’s social media usage?”.