Raising Kids in a Social Media World
Using social media websites as a form of entertainment and communication is one of the most common activities of today’s children and adolescents and as you can imagine, challenging to monitor at home and at school. This is the first generation being raised with social media available at their fingertips constantly, but through this unavoidable rise of social media and technology, today’s parents are placed in a unique dilemma. How do we raise our children up to be responsible and sensible followers of Christ in a social media-filled age? While social media can help kids stay connected with friends or acquire new passions or hobbies, according to an article from Kids Health, the dangers can’t be ignored. Social media can be extremely addicting to developing brains. Here are a few stats from Pew Research Center:
- Kids under the ages of 8 are on a cell phone an average of 50 minutes a day
- Kids ages 8-12 are on cell phones an average of 6 hours per day
- Teenagers are on their cell phones an average of 9 hours per day
Along with creating an addiction to an unhealthy screen, social media also commonly leads to cyber-bullying, social comparison, isolation, reduced attention spans and personal data stealing or abusing of information (https://technologyformindfulness.com/dangers-of-social-media/). Needless to say, we all want to keep our children as safe as possible from these potential threats, but in today’s world, it’s unrealistic to assume they will never use these platforms. For this reason, we need to teach them how to navigate these platforms safely now, so that they are prepared as they use them throughout their lives. Here are three tips for training your kids on how to use social media safely and responsibly.
1. Set an example for them of what responsible social media usage looks like
As children grow, their biggest influence is their parents, and we need to make sure that they see us create healthy boundaries and limits with our social media usage. Be aware of how much time you spend on your phone, it’s usually more than you think. Create time limits for social media apps of how long you’re allowed to be on per day, and encourage your kids to do the same. Create rules that allow for family time like no phones at the table or no phones right before bed. Show your children how you use social media and let them learn by observation what’s healthy and what’s too much.
2. Teach them how to use it
Let them know the potential dangers and tell them what they should and shouldn’t reveal. Help them understand that some people would want to harm them, and they need to be careful who they interact with because it’s easy for people to disguise themselves online. Lecture them on how anything that is put up by them is up forever, regardless of if they delete it. And finally, make sure they are aware that as they post and interact online, they are branding Jesus. They may even be someone’s first experience of Christ and they need to make sure they are representing Him accurately.
3. Monitor and mentor them as they use social media
Continue to lead through your example and continue to teach them of the dangers. Don’t assume that they will always remember everything you taught them and understand that they will make mistakes. If you are worried that something is going on, instead of yelling at them gently encourage them to be open with you about anything that might be bothering them online. Make sure they are sticking to their boundaries and limits and encourage their real-life interactions and hobbies. And lastly, remember that sometimes growing up can be hard and we must continue to provide support and love as they learn to navigate a social media-filled world.
Now more than ever, a Christian education is such a valuable investment to help prepare them to go out into the world and defend their faith. At Christian Life School the goal is to come alongside of parents to prepare our students socially, academically, and spiritually. Learn more about what our school has to offer HERE.
A few related articles to check out:
- ‘We Need to Relearn to Be Present’
- ‘The Power of ‘No’’
- ‘Navigating the Technology Superhighway’
- ‘The Heart of the Matter Facing Today’s Teens’