Doing Life Together

girl-1848477_1920Preteens and teens are developmentally moody, emotional and at times unhappy. But more is happening these days than biology. In the digital age, we need to keep evaluating the impact of social media on measures of well-being.

A report entitled, Social Media Use and Children’s Well-Being, concludes that just one hour a day of social networking makes a difference. “Spending one hour a day chatting on social networks reduces the probability of being completely satisfied with life overall by approximately 14 percentage points.” This finding raises concerns as preteens and teens deal with social comparisons, cyberbullying, and finite resources when using social media.

“Our results suggest that spending more time on social networks reduces the satisfaction that children feel with all aspects of their lives, except for their friendships; and that girls suffer more adverse effects than boys.”

The report also notes positive aspects of online networking–helping with loneliness, creating empathy opportunities, etc. But bottom line, limiting your child’s use of social media will improve his or her well-being.

Consider these parenting pointers: 

  1. Be a role model and monitor your use of social media, especially in front of your children.
  2. Explain your monitoring of their social media use so there are no surprises. Set up shared passwords to specific sites and negotiate the level of privacy.
  3. Set specific guidelines for use rather than anything goes.
  4. Educate as to what to post, what can happen with public information and the inability to control what happens once something is posted.
  5. Have tech free zones and times in your home when face to face communication is possible. Most common is no devices at meals or during family time.
  6. Involve your children in out of school programs, athletics, activities that require real interactions and communication.
  7. Evaluate your child on a daily basis–does she look sad, down, upset, angry, etc.? If so, evaluate the role social media may be playing in your child’s well-being.
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