The Impact of Social Media on Children

A Parent’s Guide to Setting Effective Limits

Gone are the days of kids calling their friends on a landline, writing letters to one another and knocking on their neighbors door to hang out on a Saturday. Most communication for kids nowadays happens through sending selfies back and forth or commenting on each other’s social media posts. And it’s obvious looking at most teenagers today that their social lives revolve around their phones.

Social media specifically is an ever-changing mode of communication, becoming a whole world in and of itself. From Facebook to Instagram to TikTok, there’s constantly a new social media app that draws us in. And of course, social media has its benefits. It’s a great way to keep in touch with old friends, express creativity and even watch a funny dog video here and there. But the detrimental effects of excessive social media on children in the midst of development can’t be ignored.

Especially in teenage girls, the beauty standards and importance of “likes” has wreaked havoc on a child’s self esteem. According to the Mental Health Foundation, “40% of teenagers said images on social media have caused them to worry about their body image.”

Beauty standards have always been an issue in our society. The danger of social media, however, is the 24/7 access we now have to this scrutiny. Unfortunately, the dopamine hit tied to getting a like on an Instagram post only increases the addiction to our phones. 

Of course, the issue isn’t the social media itself but the unhealthy attachment our society has to it. These apps are created to make us want more – and it’s working. Suddenly, this world living in our kid’s phones has become more important than the world around them.

So what can you do?

First, it’s important to lead by example. If your child sees you constantly on your phone, scrolling for hours on TikTok or engaging in social media in an unhealthy, excessive way, they’re going to do the same. You need to set effective limits for yourself and take note of the role social media plays in your life.

A helpful tip is to gather as a family and talk openly about the role of social media in your lives together. Then, set some rules in place that the whole family can hold each other accountable for. For example, decide as a family to put your phones away for the night after dinner. Then after dinner, your children are watching you participate in the boundaries set with them.

Another opportunity you have is to create structure for your family that doesn’t revolve around phones. For example, spend any time after dinner with carved out time to play board games or even watch a movie together. By offering alternatives, you’re not only diminishing the impact of social media in their lives but you’re creating opportunities for connection as a family. And when what they’re looking for in social media is some sort of connection or to be seen, this is an amazing opportunity to provide just that.

Moderation is key. By setting strict black and white rules around technology use and social media, you’re actually closing the door to a conversation. Instead, be open to having conversations, constantly checking in on the role of social media in your child’s life.

Because it is such a central form of communication for kids, it’s important to respect the benefit of it, while also monitoring its impact on your child. If their self esteem seems down because they’re on their phone too much, it’s okay to adjust boundaries through open dialogue. Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to what’s best for your child. Trust yourself in each moment as you and your family navigate through this new reality.

If you need support surrounding the conversation of social media with your child, connect with a member of our team today!

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