More from Dr. Hernandez
Are there any recommendations for time limits for social media?
There is a lot of concern from parents about how much time children should spend on social media. Although there are some guidelines, there really is no specific number of hours that works for every family. Instead, what is important is to take into consideration the quality of the media, how it fits into your family's and child’s lifestyle and how your kids engage with it. For example, some parents don’t worry about their children using social media as long as it doesn’t get in the way of other activities, such as family time or homework. Remember that kids need to balance their lives with enriching experiences found off screens for healthy development. If your children are using age-appropriate media, their behavior and mood after their social media use is positive (e.g., they don’t appear to be upset, irritable or depressed) and their screen-time activities are balanced with healthy screen-free ones, there's no need to worry. What’s important is that you create a plan that works for your family, set consistent rules and enforce them.
Should parents make social media one of their must-have conversations with their kids/teens? Should this happen at a certain age?
Yes, it is very important to have an ongoing discussion with your children about the risks associated with social media platforms in general (e.g., cyberbullying, sexting, privacy concerns), as well as the risks associated with specific platforms (e.g., the potential risk associated with Snapchat’s time limit). I suggest starting these conversations in a developmentally-appropriate way as early as possible and certainly as soon as your child starts using these platforms.
Any good resources for parents looking to learn more about safe social media use?
There are plenty of resources about the use of social media. Here are some of my recommendations:
Need more info on social media?
Our specialists at NorthShore share more expertise all about social media use:
- The New Social Life: Advice for Parents with Teens Online
- Keeping Up with Kids in the Digital Age
- Cyberbullying: Identifying the Signs and Protecting Your Kids
- Social Health: Teenagers’ Mental Health and Social Media