Is your pre-teen wishing for a device to access social media this holiday season? Allowing your child to enter the world of social media is a big decision – and a little scary.
The “right time” to give your child access to social media is different for each family says Doctor Joe Austerman of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, but there is one rule of thumb that all families should follow– and that’s setting time limits.
“You don’t want children on social media for very long. We know that the longer you’re engaged in either watching television or on social media, the worse the outcomes can be as far as depression, obesity, lack of grades,” he says.
Doctor Austerman recommends sitting down with your child to discuss the pitfalls of using social media, especially when it comes to comparing themselves with others.
“Make them understand this phenomenon, that they’re subconsciously comparing themselves when they’re interacting with other people – and help them to start to look at themselves off of social media,” he explains.
Social media isn’t all bad news – Doctor Austerman says when used responsibly, there are positives too. Some children find peer groups and a sense of belonging.
Doctor Austerman adds that it’s important to set guidelines before children use social media; and it’s best if a parent owns the device – that way, they have access to their child’s social media accounts.
He recommends trying to hold off until a child is at least twelve or thirteen years old before allowing them to create a social media account. He says parents can relax social media monitoring as children get older, if they’ve proven they can use it responsibly