What are the current guidelines for social media use in children?
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What are the current guidelines for social media use in children?

In an increasingly digital-reliant world, it can be an uphill task for parents like yourself to remain updated with current guidelines for social media use for children. You might be struggling while you navigate the complexities of parenthood amidst digital technologies that your child might be obsessed with. Your child might be spending too much time on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and compromising his or her own online safety or well-being as a result.

guidelines for social media use

Evidence is accumulating that there is a connection between social media use and psychological issues like depression and anxiety. However, simply denying your child internet use might not be the most feasible solution to protect your child from the risks of using social media, especially as he or she is approaching or has approached the teenage years and has become more defiant to your parental requests.  How then, can you, as a parent, address your concerns while guiding your child through the social media landscape?

Guidelines for social media use for children

Here are some of the current guidelines to keep your child safe while on social media platforms:

1. Give your child a good example

Whether you admit it or not, your child constantly observes and learns from your actions. Chances are, your child would also imitate your behaviour. Therefore, if you wish for your child to limit social media and screen time, start by providing a good example for your child. Avoid the temptation to spend hours browsing Facebook and Instagram sites. Even if your work is tied to social media and you are working from home, your child would notice your social media use and likely follow suit. The crux is to spend limited amounts of time on social media to set.

2. Talk about the importance of privacy

Once your child starts a social media account of their own on sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it is a good time to start a conversation about the importance of maintaining personal privacy. Remind your child about the consequences of sharing something on social media sites. To prevent other people, such as potential hackers, from accessing your child’s personal internet accounts, encourage your child to install strong passwords which are at least 8 characters long for his or her social media account and electronic device. The general rule of thumb is to avoid sharing anything on social media that your child would be uncomfortable with the whole world viewing. Additionally, warn your child about the dangers of meeting a stranger offline after meeting him or her initially online on social media sites.

3. Avoid sending compromising pictures or photos

Your child might think sending vulnerable or compromising pictures of themselves to others on social media sites is trendy in order to ‘fit in’ among friends. Nonetheless, the reverse might be true. Sending compromising pictures to others on social media sites (or any means for that matter) would be risky because these pictures might get into the wrong hands either by chance or by intention. With compromising pictures falling into the wrong hands and getting circulated, your child’s future relationships and career prospects might be affected because of one naive move on his or her part.

4. Alert your child about cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying via digital platforms and it can occur on various internet platforms such as social media sites. Oftentimes, cyberbullying is consistent behaviour to anger and shame victims. For instance, someone might send hurtful and threatening messages to your child or spread lies about your child via social media platforms. A common form of cyberbullying includes sharing embarrassing photos of victims on social media platforms for the whole wide world to see. Another thing to note is that in-person bullying and cyberbullying can occur simultaneously. Your child might be cyberbullied by his classmates on social media sites and physically bullied when at school. Therefore, alert your child to the risks of cyberbullying and constantly check in with them to see if your child has been a victim. Look for signs of depression and anxiety exhibited by your child who might be a victim of cyberbullying. Also, warn your child about the consequences of participating in cyberbullying others as well, such as disciplinary action by the school or public authorities, like the police. This is because cyberbullying provides a digital record that serves as evidence for the misconduct.

Stay calm and approachable

Your child might be using social media on his or her electronic device almost constantly, even at a relatively young age. As a parent, you might be tempted to simply give up on your child when it comes to guiding them on navigating the pitfalls and dangers of social media use. That being said, if you try the hard-handed approach to limit your child’s social media use, your child might find a way to circumvent your rules. Rather, you should have open conversations with your child about the risks of social media and the importance of cybersecurity. Hopefully, your child would glean some wisdom and navigate the Internet landscape in a safe and age-appropriate manner.


Verywell Family. 2021. Is Your Child Being Cyberbullied?. [online] Available at: <https://www.verywellfamily.com/types-of-cyberbullying-460549> [Accessed 5 August 2021].

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