6 Ways Your Social Media Use Influences Your Child

Tips for setting a good example and preventing bullying


Parents are concerned with their teens’ social media use and rightly so. Cyberbullying, sexting and slut-shaming are at an all-time high. So parents set rules regarding time spent online and limit the apps their kids can access. But it is really hard for kids to take parents seriously when they are breaking the very rules they have put in place for their kids.

Take a good look at your own social media use.

Are you living by the standards you have set for your kids? Here are six ways you can address your social media use in a way that will influence better behavior in your kids.

Limit your connectedness. If you are nagging your kids to get off their screens, then you need lead by example. Refrain from jumping on your phone every time you are bored.  Also be sure your are not rationalizing the time you spend online by calling it “work” when really you are just checking Facebook. Your kids are smart enough to figure out what you are really doing. If you want your teens to follow your rules for limited electronics and screen time, be sure to live by example.

Refrain from posting too many selfies. Although taking a selfie is a fun way to document an event, too many selfies can lead to bullying in your teen’s life. As a result, if you want your child to reduce the number of selfies they post, you should do the same.

Instead, remind your teen that once an image is posted, they lose control over what happens from there. In other words, they cannot control how others will respond or how they will use it.

Look at what your posts contain. Are you complaining about others? Are you posting mean things about your relatives?

Are you criticizing the fans of rival sports teams? If you are being mean to others online, then why should you expect your child to behave any differently? Set the example for your kids on what is an appropriate to post and what is not. Additionally, you should monitor your comments too. Avoid making snide and critical remarks on other people’s posts. Be sure what you are posting is positive. And lastly, take a long, hard look at what posts you are sharing. Even though you did not write the original post, once you share it, it says something about you.

Stop engaging in online gossip.  Make sure you do not comment on a post that contains gossip or rumors. You wouldn’t want your child getting involved in gossip and rumors at school so be sure you are not doing it in your circle of friends either. You also should think twice before following other children online and then gossiping about their photos and their posts with other parents. Some parents think that it is responsible parenting to run surveillance on other people’s children and then warn others.

  But unless you are worried about someone your child is spending time with or concerned for the safety of another, you should not be talking about other people’s children.

Put an end to “status anxiety.” If you want your kids to know that their worth is not tied to the number of likes a photo gets or how many friends they have online, then you should demonstrate this reality in your own life.  Instead of focusing on how your photos and posts are received, make sure you are posting things that are meaningful to you. Your child will learn to emulate your behavior.

Avoid oversharing. If you want your kids to stick to your guidelines regarding oversharing, then be sure you are modeling this in your own social media use. Try not to share too much personal information about yourself and your family. What’s more, you are breaking your kids’ confidence when you share pictures and stories that they find embarrassing.  Also, be sure you are using privacy controls to keep others from gaining too much information about your family. Remember, your children will be less likely to share personal information about themselves and others when you are modeling this behavior for them.

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