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How Parents Can Actually Help Teens Navigate Social Media

Early on, be very hands-on


·       Psychologists recommend that adults closely monitor social media use in children ages 10 to 14. This is a critical window for parents to teach good habits. it is important to minimize teens’ exposure to cyberbullying, online hate and content that causes them to compare their physical appearance with the appearance of others


·       A family might decide, for instance, that a child will be limited to just one app at first, and that for the first six months or so, the parents will review posts and friend requests with their child. The goal is to provide hands-on support. Taking even five minutes a day to review a kid’s social media use is fine if that’s what families have available


·       Parents should also make sure that all accounts are set to private, social media apps are designed to learn everything they can about their users so they can push personalized content that keeps kids and teens hooked.


Hold your firmest boundaries at night


No screens after 9 p.m. No smartphones or tablets in the bedroom overnight.

·       No screens at a time of night that will affect your teen’s ability to get at least eight or nine hours of sleep. Disrupted sleep is literally affecting the size of teens’ brains.


Help teens understand how social media affects their brains.

·       The middle part of the teenage brain described as the “social brain is actively constructing itself during adolescence — and is the most susceptible to outside influences. The front part of the brain, however, which manages things like decision making, risk mitigation and emotional regulation, develops well into a person’s late 20s. So, teens “are really acting with a very highly active social brain, which is making them very vulnerable to peer pressure” as well as to novelty seeking.


·       Parents SHOULD talk to their kids about these brain changes and how they make them particularly vulnerable to some of the more negative effects of social media. All the content, feedback, and stimulation available online “is highly accessible to kids right when their social brain is developing,


Ask: “Do you feel like you have control over social media, or do you feel like it’s controlling you?”

·       An opening line could be: ‘Hey, I sometimes have a hard time not being on my phone all the time. Do you ever struggle with that?” If your teen says yes, that presents an opening to talk about management strategies. You can help your teen learn the discipline of setting a timer to take responsibility for their screen time and what to do next after the timer sounds.


Encourage teens to ask: “Do I feel bad about myself while looking at this?”

·       one approach is to teach teens to do a simple gut check by asking themselves, “Are any of these accounts making me feel worse about myself or about my body?


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