How to Introduce Your Kids to Social Media

By on February 14, 2020


Photo by Flickr

Social media is one of the more popular ways we communicate with others. Not surprisingly, kids also use these platforms to stay in touch with friends and relatives. This is so widespread that 73% of teens from ages 12 to 17 use a social media site and more than 5 million kids under the age of 10 have Facebook.

Social media does offer many benefits. It can help your children develop networking skills, which are essential to their development. Stressing the importance of networking early in life can help them see the benefit of establishing connections that could help them educationally and professionally as they grow older.

Here are some of the ways parents can strike a balance while also having continuous conversations about social media use.

Educate Them Early

You want to start early while your kids still listen to you. Chances are they will pick up a game with a social media component such as chat or using Skype to communicate while they play or they’ll want to get on Facebook because they have friends on there. Because of this, they’re likely to get on one of the social media platforms because it’s an essential form of communication.

A good idea is to start them young slowly. Chuck Tanowitz, a principal at Fresh Ground, recommends parents start small by allowing your children to communicate digitally with you at ages 6-8. You can set up a Facebook account and use the Messenger feature to have them communicate with other family members.

During this time, it’s important to teach them some of the benefits of social media, as this will increase their interest in using it.

Stress the Benefits of Social Media

There are many benefits to using social media such as showing the importance of initiatives such as school events, like promoting games or taking pictures of the crowd to share. And of course, social media gives your children an opportunity and platform to network with friends. By using platforms like Google Hangouts, Skype or Facebook, these are tools they use to stay in constant communication with friends and relatives.

It also opens up a world to them by which they can learn more about anything that piques their interest. As they develop experience using these platforms, have them follow accounts that they have an interest in. For instance, if your child loves astronomy, following NASA’s Facebook account will give them access to a wealth of cool videos and articles to help them learn more about their interests.

By introducing social media slowly at a younger age, it allows you to build a dialogue with your child while you still have their interest. Along with stressing some of the benefits of social media, it’s also important to build behaviors that help them refrain from social media burnout.

Knowing When to Detach

There’s no doubt social media addiction is a real thing. It’s easy to become burned out on checking your Facebook or Twitter feeds every 15 to 20 minutes. This is why it’s vital to strike a balance on how often your child uses social media.

To avoid social media burnout, there are several things you can stress to your children. The first is to limit how long they’re online (think 10 to 15 minutes daily.) Moreover, make sure to stress the importance of taking breaks from social media occasionally, so they can strike the right balance of use.

The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study with 140 undergraduates, limiting their social media use to 10 minutes per platform and capping it at 30 minutes total. After three weeks, students remarked they felt much better, less anxious and less lonely.

However, for these lessons to take root, it’s important you practice what you preach, according to Parents Magazine. You can tell your children to be on Facebook for only 10 minutes per day, but if you are always on yours, eventually the lesson will lose its effectiveness.

To make things simpler on your end, you can time your social media use with your children to teach them transparency. You can go old-fashion and use a timer or you can use monitoring apps which tells you how long you’ve used a specific app.

Along with helping them find the balance of appropriate use, it’s also vital to help them verify the information they read.

Helping Your Kids Understand What They Read

Companies know social media is a gold mine for revenue, which is why 90% of marketers use content marketing, focusing on social media because of the sheer amount of people who use it. And because your children are on social media, it’s important to teach them about understanding what they read.

One way to test the validity of a company’s claims is by researching that company through news articles and reviews from customers who’ve had experience with the product the company sells. This gives your child a chance to apply research skills to determine whether the message they read is correct or false, especially in light of Facebook stating it won’t check the validity of politicians’ claims made on the social media platform.

What’s more, this is a valuable trait that’ll come in handy for many phases of their life from researching colleges to buying cars to knowing whom to vote for. Therefore, it’s ideal to have this discussion with them as they reach their teens years, so they have ample experience in researching claims before making important life decisions.

All told, social media is an excellent way for your children to build communication and networking skills. The key is to educate them when they’re young and to have continuous discussions that help you better understand how they consume social media and vice versa. Doing so can also help them know when to disengage from overuse and how to test brand bias.

About Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about marketing, tech, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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