Today, every parent has to make decisions about how much their children will be allowed to spend on social media. It’s not always easy to set rules around this. You might worry that your children will feel left out if they aren’t allowed to spend as much time on social media as their friends.
Alternatively, that they might resent you for putting limits on their screen time. However, unlimited time on social media can present problems for children. Just as adults can benefit from spending lots of time unplugged, so can kids! Here’s how to set healthy limits on social media usage for your children.
Why Do Kids Need Limits on Social Media?
Spending unlimited time on social media can be detrimental to your child’s mental health. Your child might be constantly exposed to unrealistic images from influencers. They also may end up also accidentally exposing themselves to adult material that they are not ready to see.
Additionally, they might feel like they need to start keeping up with certain trends, and if they don’t, they’ll be out of step with their peers. Extensive social media usage can also eat up time that your kids might otherwise spend on healthier hobbies, like reading, playing a sport, or doing arts and crafts projects.
How Old Is Your Child?
The amount of time you can reasonably allow your child to spend on social media depends on their age. Children in elementary school will undoubtedly be exposed to social media through their friends, but they should not have their own accounts, as you do not know who might try to communicate with them through these platforms. However, you might feel comfortable allowing them to use social media on your accounts while supervised.
Once your child is in middle school, you’ll have less control over how they spend their time online. Therefore, you’ll need to consider a realistic social media time limit for when they’re home. Take into account how much time they need to spend on homework and extracurriculars, and make sure that their social media usage doesn’t interfere with these necessary tasks.
Which Social Media Platforms Do They Use?
It’s important to keep tabs on the specific social media platforms that your children use. Some social media platforms can be more “addicting” than others. For example, the continuous video scroll interface on TikTok can keep users glued to the screen for hours. You may want to follow your children on their accounts so that you can see what they post and who they interact with.
How Do They Access Social Media?
The way your children access social media can influence how much time they spend on these platforms. If your children use smartphones that are connected to your cell service provider account, you may be able to block certain apps from being downloaded so that your kids can’t access them at all times.
Using social media on a computer might discourage your kids from scrolling for long periods of time.
Once you’ve decided on appropriate social media time limits for your family, you’ll have to decide how to implement them. This might mean setting up website blocks for certain hours on your family’s computers, or only allowing your children to use their phones after completing their homework. You could also designate “screen-free” hours for your family.
Are you concerned that too much screen time is affecting your child’s mental health? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.