Social media can be a great way for students and friends to connect, but it can also get extremely overwhelming, creating unrealistic pressures and causing anxiety. Before children are introduced to the world of social media through various apps, it’s important that parents and guardians set some guidelines as to how and when social media should be used. It’s also key to help educate children as to some of the etiquette and “rules” that apply (or should!) when using social media. Apex Leadership Co. offers some tips on how to help youth navigate social media.

 

First of all, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to social media.

Parents and guardians know their children best. They can serve as their best advocate in the world of social media and the internet in general. It’s important that the parent(s) feel their child, regardless of age, is emotionally mature enough to handle the complex world of social media. Helping them understand that social media can present unrealistic (even entirely altered or fake) imagery and content are vital so that they can learn not to take everything at face value.

 

Determining what to post and or respond to is another area that should be addressed.

Mama used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” And this is a good rule of thumb when it comes to social media. This is not the place to disparage or insult someone’s appearance in a photo or to post something inappropriate. There are many examples of rising stars and professionals whose careers have been cut short thanks to something as seemingly trivial as a social media post — even something they may have posted years before their success or a comment made in jest. What gets out on the internet can rarely be wiped clean away. Reminding children of the staying power of negative social media should be clearly communicated.

 

Set up ground rules and how long is healthy for them to be online.

When allowing children to join the world of social media, there should also be some ground rules set up in terms of how much time is allowed per day (or week) and what’s safe and what’s not (parents can determine which sites/social media outlets they do or do not allow). Engaging with others on social media should also be discussed. Communicating with strangers can lead down a very dangerous path and cyberbullying is very real, whether this comes from a stranger or someone the child knows.

 

Social media can be tricky for everyone, even adults. While it’s a fun tool for engaging and interacting with friends, it does have a dark side. Apex Leadership Co. encourages families to take the time to properly address social media interaction with their children and to monitor usage to ensure a healthy experience online.