It’s impossible to escape social media, especially for kids. Today’s children are using Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms from the moment they can control a smartphone.
While it’s important for our kids to adopt technology, it’s also important to make sure that they don’t overdo it. Some say social media is even more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes.
If you’re worried that your kids are spending too much time on social media or may get into trouble, use the tips below to monitor and limit their activity. We wound up having to call IT support in Toronto to get help with changing our router’s settings and taking a more aggressive approach to blocking sites.
1. Designate Special Times for Social Media
One effective way to monitor your children’s social media activity is to only allow access during certain hours of the day. Maybe they can only use Instagram and Snapchat for an hour after school.
Set a time limit on social media use and regulate the hours in which they can access social media sites at home.
If you have issues with your child following the rules, you can adjust the advanced settings on your router or use the parental controls on your computer to block social media at certain times of the day. We had this issue with our oldest child, who figured out how to change the settings on Windows back to whatever he wanted.
2. Adjust Privacy Settings
Social media can be a frightening place. Strangers can find out all kinds of information about your kids if you don’t take steps to protect their privacy. You can adjust the privacy settings in your browser and your child’s social media accounts.
Adjust the privacy settings to the strictest level on Facebook and the Internet through your browser. You can also adjust levels around cookies and third-party sites.
3. Have a Central Location for Social Media Use
Designate a central location for social media use in the house. For us, this location is the living room. Kids can only use their phones, iPads and laptops in the living room where everyone is gathered.
We don’t spy on the kids, but they know that we can easily look over their shoulders at any time (we don’t). When social media time is over, we take the phones and other devices away.
4. Lead by Example
Set a good example for your kids by limiting your own social media use and being responsible about what you post. Let your kids see what you post on your accounts. Talk about the importance of developing a good online reputation and being careful about giving out personal information.
Some parents believe that they should follow all of their children’s social media accounts. This is fine if your kids are okay with it or you feel it’s necessary. About 47% of kids are friends with their parents on Facebook. But many kids will feel smothered by this and may wind up creating rogue accounts that you don’t see. It may be best to simply know their accounts and to keep a watchful eye on them.