5 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Their Social Media Use

Like it or not, social media is here to stay. For adults and teenagers alike, social media has become the way that we keep up to date with what’s happening in the world, stay in touch with our friends, and find opportunities for ourselves.

It is possible, though, to have too much of a good thing. Kids who are on social media all of the time are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders, and there is a risk of their social media use impacting their ability to socialize in real life (IRL).

Take their phone at night

If your teen is using their phone at night, not only is that a good eight-hour window where they can do whatever they want online completely unsupervised, it might actually impact their sleep. And not just because they’re staying up all night!

The blue light emitted by mobile phones and other electronic devices disrupts the production of melatonin, which is the body’s sleep hormone. This means that using these devices before bed is likely to mean that you can’t fall asleep as easily and that your sleep quality isn’t as good.

To get around this issue, take the phones and tablets of the whole family at night to charge them, in a place away from the bedrooms. It’s best to apply the same rule to everyone to avoid arguments of unfairness, and also because everyone can benefit from a good night’s sleep!

Enforce a schedule for the whole family

If you decide on a limit for the amount of time your child is allowed to use their phone each day, the best way that you can enforce this is to lead by example.

If your child isn’t allowed to use their phones at certain times of the day, then don’t use yours either! As an added bonus, this will create times of the day where the whole family aren’t using their phones, which you can perhaps use for a little together time.

Watch for signs of anxiety

There is a growing problem with social media anxiety in teens. Social media anxiety is essentially an extension of social anxiety. Because teens spend so much time on social media, they don’t have any time to get away from their anxieties about performing well in social situations. If left unchecked, this anxiety can become a habit and can morph into an anxiety disorder.

Some signs to look out for are:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Shyness
  • Nervous behavior such as fidgeting or nail-biting
  • Avoiding eye contact

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that you talk to your teen about your concerns as soon as possible and seek treatment if necessary.

Understand the apps they are using

It’s a good idea to download and use the apps that your child is using so that you can have an understanding of their experience.

This will not only mean you are better equipped to know what’s happening in their lives, but it also means your child is more likely to come to you if they are having any issues.

Safe people to talk to

If your child runs into trouble online, they must have a trusted adult that they can turn to. If you think that they might not come to you for fear of getting into trouble, then it can be really helpful to ensure that they know they can come to a trusted family friend.

— Featured photo by Flickr user gonzalobaeza, Creative Commons