What Parents Can Do To Prevent Negative Impacts of Social Media on Kids
Removing social media apps from your kids’ phones and devices is probably not a reasonable expectation. And these devices aren’t going away anytime soon. So what’s a parent to do? The best way to prevent the negativity that comes with these apps is to set boundaries on social media use and have open conversations.
Model Good Social Media Behavior
The most important step parents can take is to model good behaviors. If you’re telling your kids they need to abide by certain rules or guidelines on social media to stay healthy, they need to see you doing the same. For example, if you’re scrolling through images and making comments about the appearance of a friend or family member to your partner—whether it’s positive or negative—they will absorb that and consider it to be okay for them to do too.
Inspire a Positive Self-Image at Home
Kids adapt to the environment they’re in. The way you speak about yourself will impact the way your kids think about themselves. Therefore, if you speak negatively about yourself, your kids will consider that normal. Promote the idea that every person in your family is exactly how they should be—unique and capable. Instilling confidence in them will go a long way. The less focus on their outward self-presentation, the better.
Many teens turn to social platforms to see how other social media users portray themselves, but that isn’t necessarily a real image. There are too many apps and filters to count built solely to distort or alter an image, especially a selfie. Talk to your kids about the unrealistic images circling around the Internet. Make sure they realize these are fantasy, not reality.
If you’re a parent of girls, in particular, there are several ways to instill a positive self-image offline. We love this article by ChildMind.org—it details a litany of opportunities to talk about positive body image with your daughters.