With good reasons there have been many pointed references to the damaging effects too much social media can have on children. A study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that limiting use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to 10 minutes a day led to significant reductions in loneliness and depression.
But parents are faced with a blizzard of pressure. How do they strike a balance between letting their kids use social media, and making sure they don’t go overboard? Its not sensible to ban all social media use, the kids will feel ostracised among their peers and resentful towards their parents will clearly doesn’t help create harmony in the home.
But what do you do when children are showing serious signs of addiction? The bottom line is that dependency causes the brain to work overtime in order to get the next hit. If your kids are clearly suffering and bordering on the obsessive then the following steps will help you take back control while giving their children enough elastic to ensure they don’t have to go cold turkey.
- If they have more than one account, help them choose only one app or platform they can use. This reduces the time and attention they give to social media and also anxiety. You have concerns over their screen-time, mental health and the stress they likely experience. Explain these concerns and say they must use just one app or platform.
- As a parent you have the right to step in take charge. As such you can change the password for the account they choose to use and deactivate the other accounts. This prevents them from using their same accounts on other devices. By changing the password to something only you know they can’t log out and back in to create new profiles.
- Another factor to consider is social media platforms that have a web presence such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. To block access to these sites, you will need to block the websites from your home computers (Windows and Mac allow for this), their phone, and any other device in the home they can access the internet. It might seem like an excessive step but if you’re child is suffering from social media excess it’s the right step.
- Next you can disable the phone’s ability to download apps without your permission. Most specifically, the social media apps they have chosen to get rid of. On an iPhone, when an app has previously been downloaded it can be re-downloaded from the Cloud without a password. You can disable the ability to download apps under the Parental Restrictions settings.
- Help your child reduce their friends and followers on the one account they are using to only the people they actually know in real-life. Do you know all of your child’s contacts, friends, and followers on their social media? Using social media for “communication” with friends should equate to your child personally knowing every ‘friend/follower.’ In contrast, using social media to post boastful selfies and to gain likes, attention, and worship from as many people as possible is a whole different game and can lead to self- damaging actions.