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Managing Social Media


Managing Social Media

Kristin Abbondante, Ph.D., Psychologist

At what age should parents allow their child to use social media?

I think there are several things to consider when letting a child on social media.  I don't know if there is a great age to start this.  I do think there are several things you want to think about.  One again is earlier the better, because I think you have a lot more influence as they are younger.  The other thing you want to think about is social maturity.  How do they do with their friends? Do they make good decisions with their friends?  Do they make good friends?  Do they pick up on social cues?  And if they're doing well in that arena, then maybe we can start transitioning them to having friends online.

What social media platforms should parents start with?

I do think its good to start slowly and maybe start with one site.  I don't believe anything is created evil, right?  I think its all about how we use it, however there are sites on there that do a better job with privacy settings, that do a better job with blocking, that do a better job in just monitoring things that are posted in general.  And Facebook is a great one.  A lot of kids don't like Facebook because they realized their parents are getting on Facebook, but I think that is a great one to start.  Some of those like Instagram, some of the more popular ones do a great job. 

Two that I'm concerned about..  They are called kik messenger and  Not that they're totally terrible,  but I do think there is less monitoring and less privacy settings so something to be concerned about if that is one your child is on frequently. 

What are some rules parents should instill regarding social media?

Setting those no electronic zones, where there is just times when we turn off the phone.  I also think it's so important to monitor.  Often times I see parents make the same mistake, which is they either monitor too frequently so they are constantly seeing what their child is on or they're not monitoring at all. And so I think it's good to be right in the middle.  You're supervising you're checking in, you're providing consequences and you're communicating. 

It's not a question of if your child is going to make mistakes on social media, it's when.  And I think the urge as a parent is to then deny access to social media.  And the analogy I like to use is you know if your child is on a bike and they fall down, you don't tell them not to get back on that bike.  They get back on, they try, we supervise.  And we want to be doing the exact same thing with social media. ​

When should you allow your child to use social media? Kristen Abbondante, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, offers tips and strategies for parents on when and how to introduce social media to their child.