As a parent, it is often hard to determine what social media boundaries work best for your children. Of course, it does not help that many children ignore age limitations on social media websites. For instance, a user must be 13 years or older to sign up for Facebook, yet there are many children under the age of 13 who have their own account.
Understanding how and why you should set social media limits on your children is good for both you and them. For you, it gives you peace of mind knowing that your child is safe. For your child, it can improve their performance in school and at home. It can also improve their emotional health and developmental abilities. Fortunately, learning how to set age-appropriate limits is not difficult.
Setting Time Limits Based on Age
For starters, you should judge how much time your child gets to spend on social media – or online in general – based on their age. Children are prone to excessive media usage, which can lead to disturbing troubles. Children who use social media excessively are known to struggle with sleep, identity, attention, grades, and image.
It is best that you limit your child to no more than one to two hours of social media use daily. Failure to limit your child’s behavior on social media can lead to risky and illicit behaviors. Also, you should apply a minimum age limit to your child and stick with it. Considering that most social media sites have restrictions for children under 13, that is the age you should stick to.
Your child will, of course, argue with you when you set social media limits, but it is important that you stand your ground. You can limit social media usage by creating blocks of time. Parental control on mobile phones, tablets, and PCs allow you to set specific times of the day that your child can use the internet. You can also identify specific websites that your child can or cannot visit before or after a certain time of the day.
Stick with Supervision
No matter the age of your child, you must be willing to supervise their social media usage. Do not make the mistake of thinking that younger children require stricter supervision than older children. Instead of making it an age issue, you should focus on maturity. The maturity of your child should determine how much supervision your child needs on social media.
Let your child know that the only way he or she can have a social media profile is if you have access to the password. This allows you to check up on your child whenever necessary. You can restrict certain friend requests and ensure that your child is not participating in conversations that may prove dangerous or unhealthy.
Supervision is not just about ensuring that your child behaves. You can also supervise to make sure that your child is not the victim of bullying. It is not uncommon for children to take to social media as a way of bullying their peers. The internet provides a form of anonymity that makes people brave enough to speak in ways that they might not otherwise speak.
Combining supervision with social media limits allows you to protect your child the best way you can. Aside from bullying, your child could become the target of a predator. Predators often prowl social media sites to find innocent children. If you provide proper supervision, you can prevent your child from becoming an unnecessary victim.
Limits by Age Group
It is best to breakdown social media limits by age group. For very young children, which includes children four and younger, you should not provide access to social media outside of high-quality programming. High-quality programming can provide useful learning tools for your child, but even then, exposure to those programs should not go past an hour.
For elementary kids between the ages of 5 and 11, you should provide limitations on how much social media they consume. It is not uncommon for young children to watch videos online through social media sites, such as YouTube. Unfortunately, there are many questionable videos and ads on YouTube that can prove harmful for your child.
Again, you should limit consumption to no more than an hour. You should also setup video restrictions. There are video restrictions that you can apply so that your child cannot access inappropriate content when viewing videos through social media. In fact, YouTube and other social media sites even have a kid-friendly version featuring age appropriate videos for your child.
For children 12 and up, you will find your greatest source of stress. By the time a child reaches the age of 12, they typically want their own social media profile and their own mobile device. Make sure you set the recommended time limits on your teenager of no more than two hours maximum. No child needs more than a couple of hours on any social media website.
Of course, you should provide your teenager some privacy, but that does not mean you cannot supervise. If you allow your child to have a social media profile, make sure the two of you go through the privacy settings together. You can limit who is able to add your child as a friend and who can or cannot send messages to your child using social media limits.
Recommendations for You
From the time your child is young, you should set a good example. Your child is not likely to adhere to your limitations on social media if you cannot follow your own rules. Therefore, you will have to set social media limitations on yourself. The goal is for you to set a precedent for your child to follow. You can instill appropriate social media behaviors by showing your child what is and is not appropriate.
If you still have trouble trying to determine proper social media limits, you can always speak to a therapist. A therapist can provide you recommendations that work best for you and your child. A therapist can also help you solve any issues you might be having if your child is currently abusing social media privileges.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).