In our September “Dr. Mom Knows Best" feature, child psychologist Polly Dunn, Ph.D., offered smart advice on everything from boosting your mood to making your kid a better person. For this guest post, Dr. Dunn provides a handbook to staying on top of your kid’s social media presence. As she tells her children: “I’m your mom and I will friend, follow and like you.” Here’s how she says you can do the same—without being glued to a screen 24/7:
In the past week my daughter has asked for Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. My answer? Absolutely not. Why Mom? You’re eight, that’s why! She knows all about the latest social media trends from her older brother and sister, both teenagers and both with social media accounts. And not surprisingly even some of her eight-year-old friends are using these applications. But in my house, the answer is a firm no. I know enough about social media to understand that it’s no place for an eight-year-old. Social media sites for our kids are advancing so fast that for parents it often seems impossible to keep up. But it’s not. With a little effort, we can do our part to stay active parenting our kids both online and off. Here’s how: 1. Follow the age requirements. Most social media sites require children to be 13 to sign up, but Vine requires you to be 17. Not only should your child meet the minimum age requirement, but they should be able to use good judgment offline before becoming active in social media. 2. Be an active social media parent. If my kids are on social media sites then I am right there with them. I follow, friend and like them. I don’t comment on their posts or embarrass them, but I monitor what they are doing, just like I do in real life. You can call it stalking, but in this day and age it’s not stalking. It’s called parenting. 3. Encourage privacy. Remind your teens not to share personal information about themselves, their family or their friends online. Kids should keep all profiles set to private and make sure to only accept friends or followers that they know in real life. 4. Keep conversations going. Talk about their interactions on social media just like you would talk to them about their real world experiences. Discuss how to use manners, practice kindness and show respect online and then be a good role model of that with your own social media use. 5. Yank their social media privileges. You heard me. Using social media is a privilege, not a right. You can ground your kids from using Instagram or Twitter when they misuse it just like you can ground them from going out with friends when they miss curfew. When do they get their privileges back? When they show they can behave properly online. Do you have any ideas to share on how to parent your children on social media? Do you agree with the ‘Friend, Follow, and Like’ plan? Let us hear from you in the comments below. Dr. Polly Dunn is a child psychologist and a mom of four kids, ranging in age from 5 to 16. For more of her ‘Perfectly Imperfect Parenting Solutions’ visit her blog at www.ChildPsychMom.com.