Helping Children Navigate Social Media During a Pandemic
Daisy Perez, M.S., and Justine Roach, LCSW
For the last six months of the pandemic, children and preteens have been spending more time on devices, leaving them exposed to a variety of readily-available platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Many parents wonder whether it is safe for children or preteens to use social media or not and the answer to this question is complex.
Social media can have a potentially positive effect on children and preteens. Specifically, it can build social connections with classmates and friends with similar interests, which can strengthen a sense of belonging during an isolating time. However, social media, if not regulated properly, can expose children to inappropriate images and information.
Here are five helpful tips and suggestions for parents to use at home to help set boundaries and support children and preteens in navigating the rapidly changing world of technology:
Have a discussion with your child about social media. It is important that they have accurate information from you rather than false information from someone else. Even though most social media platforms require children to be 13 years old to create an account, many young children are still making them. Instead, be preventative and have a discussion about social media, appropriate versus inappropriate content, and set boundaries (which we will discuss in detail in the next point).
Enforce firm and consistent rules around using social media. Decide when your children are allowed to use social media and for how long they can use it and stick to your plan. Since they are using their devices throughout the week for school, our recommendation is that they use social media on the weekend for a maximum of thirty (30) minutes a day.
Explain your reasons
Why you are setting limits on social media use and how viewing inappropriate content can damage one’s feelings about themselves and others. Explain that children’s brains are developing and the overuse of social media is exposure to superficial stimuli which can lead to difficulty in connecting with their peers and increased unhappiness.
Help children understand cyberbullying — the use of technology to put other people down or threaten them. Enforce a no-tolerance policy in your home around this behavior.
Download an app that protects your child and blocks inappropriate websites and social media accounts.
We hope that these tools and strategies will help you and your families in this new digital era. Sinai Akiba Academy families can feel free to contact the school counselors, Daisy Perez or Justine Roach, with questions.
For further reading and information please read the following articles online:
Sinai Akiba Academy is a private Jewish day school in Los Angeles, serving students in Early Childhood through Grade 8. We also offer a variety of parenting classes and programs for children through our Parenting Center.A Sinai Temple school.