Many parents have viewed social media as something akin to video games; it’s mostly for kids, and while there’s occasional controversy it’s mostly harmless. However, as social media has grown larger, and as the legitimate dangers that lurk in its darker corners have been splashed across the news, parents have grown more and more afraid of what they used to regard as little more than a toy.
The Internet is a part of all our lives, whether we like it or not. From the updates on our smartphones to our evenings spent watching Netflix, it has subtly shifted and changed the way we access information, and how we enjoy our entertainments. Social media, for better or worse, has altered the way we communicate. Why call someone when you can send them a quick text on their social network of choice? Why tell all your friends your good news individually, when you can make a post on your wall and tag them all so they get it simultaneously?
That’s all well and good, but social media is a lot like a forest in a fairy tale. It might give you some good things, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t wolves waiting inside it for you to wander on by.
You can put boundaries and controls on social media. However, it’s important to realize that you can’t just slam the door on it. Especially since, sooner or later, your kids are going to grow up and they’re going to have to make their own decisions regarding what they do on the Internet. So it’s more important for you to teach them about the possible dangers than it is to just keep them insulated from the digital world.
What Sort of Boundaries Should Be Established?
The kind of boundaries you need to put on social media will depend entirely on your family, and their unique situations. For example, if you have young children you might allow them to play games on social media, but not to access the other features. If your children are old enough that they’re using social media to keep in touch with their friends, then you should be allowed to review who is on their friends list, while still allowing them to keep their messages private. If your children have reached young adulthood, you should ask them to keep you in the loop instead of maintaining controls; they’re reaching an age where you have to trust them to make their own decisions.
In addition to setting limits and boundaries, though, you need to educate yourself and your kids about how social media works. If they’re going to accept the limits you set they have to trust that you know what you’re talking about, and they have to feel like they have a say in what’s being done. For example, if you just arbitrarily tell them that Facebook chat is off-limits, it will just lead them to use a different system, or often they just resort to hiding an app or website that they think you may disapprove off or are monitoring. Instead, you need to have a discussion to explain the risks that exist in the world of social media, and to establish trust with your kids that they will come to you if something happens.
Limiting social media isn’t just putting your foot down; it’s about establishing a dialogue, and educating yourself and your kids about the risks they face using today’s social networks. That education means they’re able to keep themselves safe, which will be helpful when you aren’t there to set their limits anymore. Setting boundaries with social media and establishing balance in the lives of your kids and teens is easier when you use a trustworthy parental control software. Netsanity offers a suite of services their Timeblocker scheduler, can be used regularly to ensure that kids enjoy other activities or spend time finishing homework or get sleep at night instead of spending countless hours on their mobile devices! One of my favorite features that they offer is called Appblocker, where certain social media and other apps are profiled and parents can one-click block them, making apps such as Instagram, SnapChat or Tumblr and others a one-click solution. They have a free trial, so it’s worth checking out!
Overall, balance in life will always help your kids and teens lead a healthy and happy life along with enjoying the amazing benefit of technology!
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