Social Media: How Does It Work in Your Family?

Posted February 19, 2016 by

Social Media: How Does It Work in Your Family?

When Empowering Parents Coaches sat down to talk about social media and kids, we found we had many different ideas and opinions. It was a lively conversation!

We talked about the right amount of social media use, the language kids use online, acceptable behavior, boundaries, monitoring (or not monitoring) kids’ activity, and so on.

Social media is a concern for parents – a complicated one. And as we talked about it, we were curious.

How do you handle social media in your house?

What works for your family? What isn’t working? How much do you monitor your children? Do you have a social media contract, or family rules? What advice do you have for other families?

Please share your experiences with social media and kids in the comments section below.

We’re excited to hear from you. We hope our readers can learn from – and support – each other on this topic.

Wishing you a great week,

The Empowering Parents Coaching Team

Note: If you are working on technology use at home, this article may give you some good ideas: 10 Steps to Set Your Kids Up With a Healthy Online/Offline Balance.

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When you need guidance through a specific situation, have questions about your program or just need someone to listen when you’re overwhelmed, our professional 1-on-1 Coaches are waiting to help. Each is highly experienced with our range of learning programs and dedicated to personally motivating and supporting you. Learn more about Empowering Parents 1-on-1 Coaching.

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  1. CoachAnnH1 Report

    In our house social media and computer usage is a privilege that is meted out only when certain conditions have been met i.e. doing homework, cleaning one’s room, walking the dog, etc.  And then no more than 2 hours per day if time allows.  I have the computer auto-off 1 hour prior to bedtime and the internet is completely disabled if there is no adult home (my daughter is 12 and can stay alone for small periods).  I am a “follower” on all her social media accounts and periodically check to see who else may be following her.  She can only access these accounts on My phone (not hers!) and My profile on the computer.  Net/net is that you as a parent need to (re) gain control.  It’s okay to tell your child that you have made a mistake in how the computer or media is being handled and, that said, you now want to correct it.  The trick is, it takes both energy and diligence to monitor what your child is doing.  It’s a full time job.  I don’t do anything else when my daughter has to be on the internet for school and she must use the computer in the kitchen.  Even though I could be working myself or going to the gym.  Small price for peace of mind and good habits. Good luck out there!

    Reply
  2. concerned teacher Report

    As a teacher of elementary and middle school children, I can see a decline in the ability to read, problem-solve, and concentrate. Social media and games have caused our children to expect easy answers, quick solutions, and mental over-stimulation through sounds and visuals. They are lacking the stamina to stay on task and complete assignments and chores that require hard work. Their verbal and written communication skills are in serious decline. I see very young kids playing on tablets or watching videos while in cars when parents have the perfect opportunity to catch up with their children. Kids will often come to school tired after staying up late and playing on their devices. 

    While technology has its place in the home and in the classroom and workplace, it should be viewed as a tool, not a babysitter. Time playing games on the devices or surfing the internet should be matched with interactive, face-to-face conversation, activities, and reading. Children who only interact in a virtual world never acquire the manners, coping techniques, and temperaments necessary to exist in the world. This is extremely detrimental to their self-esteem and development.

    Do your child a favor and limit the use of his/her devices. Get involved, play games, explore the outside, “cut and paste” the old-fashioned way, and read to and with him/her. Encourage conversation and sharing of ideas. Sing and dance. Use the technology together and talk about what is happening in your child’s virtual world. Post your expectations and rules, if necessary, and stick with them. Social animals – yes, we belong to this group – are meant to interact, not just stare at a screen.

    Reply
  3. concerned mom of 2 boys Report

    I am absolutely distraught about the internet and xbox usage in my home.  Both boys (ages 12 and 13) have computers in their rooms.  What a mistake!  We brought them both down to the kitchen table last week and we are shocked at the amount of time they are on them.  My older one toggles back and forth from Team Fortress 2 to school work  lightning fast.  Just last night I received an email from a teacher that he is missing 15 assignments.  My son is lying to me about school work.  We disconnected both of them last night.  Neither one of them has a portable electronic device and I feel like the only parent in the world that doesn’t let their kid have one.  
    I just feel sick about all this and I don’t know what to do.  
    On Team Fortress 2 he has multiple identities and the conversation threads are disgraceful.  The profanity and racism is out of this world.  Does anyone know about this Team Fortress 2 game?  
    My 12 year old is hooked on Destiny and his behavior is so disrespectful!  
    When he came downstairs this morning he said, ‘where is my xbox’ and my husband said we are going to take a break.  My son said, and you expect me to be nice to you?  
    I don’t know who my kids are anymore and I am so sad.

    Reply
    • JenRose1 Report

      concerned mom of 2 boys I want you to know you aren’t the only one out there fighting/dealing with this.  I was already strict with usage, and where, and when, and how long, but in talking with the family therapist(yes, I talk to a counselor with my three sons)……it sounds like your oldest(lying and missing work)is doing what my oldest 13yrs old was doing…they are literally addicted to the interaction of the xbox and internet.  Cold turkey them from it is going to have some ugly things happen, be ready for it—-you have to stand firm, seriously firm…..remove smart phones, kindles, xbox, access to friends/family play time where he could get access by going over to visit…..it might seem harsh…..but you will be glad to stopped it now……it isn’t easy to deal with….I suggest a counselor for him, and you to talk to…..feelings from sadness to being lonely, to being angry —-it will all show up at once for him once he is stripped of the way he used to get his ‘happy feelings’ ——I wouldn’t have believed this ‘addiction’ line of thinking if I wasn’t experiencing it with my own son….he was stealing his brothers ipod to use to get his ‘fix’……He is now earning time back….but after four weeks of cold turkey(on all games, internet access while I sat with him for homework only)……and ‘grounded’ will seem like YEARS for a few hours…….but four weeks is a good start……he will try to make you feel it is all your fault……and RAGE like you haven’t seen, and be disrespectful like never before…….hence, getting a counselor involved as a neutral third party to listen to both of you, and help you listen to each other.  Bottom line, you (and your husband?) are the adults, take the adult stand…..remove all access from him….and stand by that…but be ready for a RAGE…..get some assistance…..there are family counselors out there, and they do help, at least in my situation.  You aren’t alone!!!!!!

      Reply
    • Julianne Taylor Report

      concerned mom of 2 boys My son was crazy about one game and would have played it hours on end if allowed. We removed his xbox for bad behaviour. We have KidsWatch on all the computers the children use,  and he can only do homework – you can block any programme or website you want to. You can limit time and determine what hours they can use. You can block internet completely if you want, but allow access to other things like to write. Then he earned computer time for fun stuff day by day. If he had a good day – homework done (check with teacher – kids lie) is respectful, done chores etc, the next day he could have 1/2 – 1 hour of gaming time. It is up to them to earn time not blackmail us and say he will act badly if you dont give him time.
      They will pull or the manipulative tricks in the book, treat it like an addiction and stay firm.

      Every summer we go away camping for 2 weeks, in a place where we meet up with other families. No electricity, no devices, the kids learn to be kids again and do old fashioned stuff like play ball games and swim and kayak. I highly recommend.

      Reply
  4. briansmith429 Report

    Until kids are emotionally developed enough to process all that the internet/social media throws at them, they MUST be monitored.  It’s irresponsible not to.  The tough part is deciding WHAT age your child is mature enough to handle WHAT digital freedoms.  Of course, this varies by child.  But remember, the brain isn’t fully developed (especially the front part of the brain that handles decision making and processing consequences for actions) until age 22-24.  Social Media freedoms should be granted along a continuum that gets more and more liberal as the child earns trust and demonstrates good decision making.
    There isn’t a hard and fast rule for EXACTLY when those freedoms should be granted, but it’s our job to TALK TO THEM and develop their ability to live in this digital age (they’re listening, even if they’re not responding or even obeying.  Eventually, it will shape them.  Hang in there).  What I CAN tell you is that I don’t believe a 12 or 13 year old is NEARLY mature enough to handle an unrestricted and unmonitored smartphone that has LITERALLY anything you can think of on it. On the flip side of the coin, by the time your child is graduating from high school (under normal circumstances), they should have the processing ability to handle a RELATIVELY unrestricted computer and phone.  So, what about the years between 12-18?  THOSE ARE HARD!  And the degree of difficulty varies by child.  However, we should not be naive enough to expect perfection OR to assume that none of the REALLY bad stuff will happen to OUR kid or APPEAL to our kid.  The time for them to make mistakes is when they are in your house and you can walk/talk them through a more appropriate pattern of behavior.  We just have to hope and pray they avoid the catastrophic mistakes…and SOME of that is up to us.

    Use the parental control features.  Use the ROUTER in your home to monitor content for ANY device connected to your wifi.  Use your cellphone carrier to restrict times that the phone is able to send messages or data.  Again, these controls can be age dependent and you have to loosen them up as the kids get older in order to make them independent and good digital citizens.  The best judge of how much access is ultimately up to YOU, the parent.  And I promise, if you ask your kid, it won’t be enough!

    Reply
  5. Teresa Report

    Treat social media as drugs and alcohol – they provide effective relief for those with underlying mental health issue but will have minimal long term effect to most
    We have a 15 year old boy who is addicted to social media/video games and is now so dysfunctional that he has not been attending school and has dropped out of every aspect of living. He has been hospitalized and assessed to show characteristics of Patological Demand Avoidance syndrome and ODD. Up to the end of grade 6, he was a self-driven over-achiever in all aspects of his life; he managed everything with such ease that we did not have to “parent” him at all. Although he did exhibit anxiety at times for the oddest things, he seemed to be able to overcome them in due course until his older brother moved away for college and at the same time, he was given his own laptop as part of the school program in grade 7. To overcome missing his brother and the additional demands of middle school and extracurricular enrichments (of his choice), he turned to social media and video gaming for relief. The relief was so pleasing that he spent most of his waking moments outside of school and hobbies on them. He started to put less efforts towards productive activity to free up time. For a short while, his intelligence and superior skills masked the severity of his addiction to social media, but cracks emerged shortly and by the end of grade 8, it became clear that social media has something to do with the change in behaviours and specific failings.
    Unfortunately for us, we did not appreciate the severity of underlying mental health issues at play despite consulting medical professionals and psychologists as soon as we noticed something was amiss. We were also naively thinking that the way we were parenting him was still fine.
    It has been 3 years, we finally have acronyms for what ails him. We are finally learning how to parent him more effectively but there is little help available to help our son. I do not wish our situation upon any parents, but we do wish we had been more effective parents – especially for one who is precocious. In retrospect, we missed many opportunities to teach this child problem solving skills which could have helped him; the emphasis is the “could have”, one can never tell now. Social media is the choice of relief for our child but it really is not the cause of his downfall; it could have been something else. For us, it has been a combination of not being effective parents despite good intentions and best efforts and our son’s underlying mental health issues. I am not sure if the outcome would have been different for our son if we practiced the Total Transformation principles when he was much younger, what I do know is that the course would have helped us parent him with consistency, reduced the stress on our relaionship along the way and we would have been more emotionally available to help our child as parents when his needs arise.
    Pleas excuse typos.

    Reply
    • snowbirdkaren Report

      Focus On What Matters Thank you for sharing your painful story.  It encourages me to not give up. My son is also 15 and, if I allowed it, would spend every waking moment on SM/games.  I grow so weary of the constant monitoring (and resulting opposition) that sometimes I want to give up and let him live with the consequences of his own foolishness. This forum has been helpful for me to see what restrictions other parents put on their teens and what happens if we don’t enforce limits.  My son would have me believe I am the most controlling and restrictive parent out there and that I am completely unreasonable. I honestly don’t know how we would have survived these years had it not been for Total Transformation and I only wish I had know about them when he was a toddler. I often repeat their mantra that I don’t have to be a perfect parent, only good enough.

      Reply
      • never ever give up Report

        snowbirdkaren Focus On What Matters
        It feels so good to know I am not alone! My son is 15yrs too, and we are struggling to control his screen time since years. So much fighting, painful moments, sadness over the lack of connection due to this immense drive to get connected or just fed with some kind of screen stimuli. And, like you, we so often felt so lost – all other parents seemed fine! “Everyone else is allowed to…” – and he really believes it! Nobody would admit, that they are not allowed certain things, they are too cool at that age, so many insecurities… Thanks for this platform! It’s a jewel…

        Reply
  6. efncollard Report

    Our 6-year old granddaughter just came into our lives. For now, we have told her not to bring her tablet to our house since, every time we tried to tell her to hand it over or turn it off, there was a big battle. Also, I disconnect Siri from my iPhone since she was using it to search for pictures of “men kissing women.” I don’t let her use my phone much at all now. And we don’t allow video viewing on school nights any more. Nor do we watch TV while she is around (and rarely do ourselves when she isn’t).

    Am eager to read others’ comments here – as people in our 70’s, we long for the olden days when such devices weren’t an issue at all. There’s just too much sex and violence available readily.

    Reply
  7. working out together Report

    liberal mum
    I never Check….we discuss the pros and cons before they were allowed for social media.by the grace of GOD they use it very wisely and they are adjustable too. if they sits long hours and they are unable to meet other targets on which none of us compromise then they face the consequences and are ready for it. Some time i stand with them and some time let them decide to enhance their decision making skills and encourage independent thinking.
    if things are not as per family set rule then i am the ruler …I disconnect the WiFi  🙂

    Reply
    • Cecilia Report

      I agree with your strategies and the tricky part is to monitor their targeted responsibilities and make sure those are not being compromised!

      Reply
  8. sundravalliraji Report

    Hai friends,
              In our home the computer was kept in hall where my daughter can use system in presence of elders. The time allotted for her to use is structured and after daily studies and outdoor play. Above all she was made to understand the risk and problems while we are in social network. Guidance was given to share posts and comments in a decent and dignified way while she is in groups so that she wont get negative social mirroring. Real life examples was quoted about who had been troubled by the fake persons. Today parent’s important role is to bring self realization among their children and they should not say ‘No” to anything instead can channelize the children.

    Reply

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