Managing Social Media Use Together

As parents, one of the great challenges we face is managing the online actions and interactions of our children. This online world is constantly and quickly evolving so sometimes we struggle to keep abreast of latest developments. It is such an inviting world for our teenagers, so its management is likely to cause some angst. 

Social media refers to any digital platform, system, website or app that enables people to create and share content and to connect with each other.  ReachOut Australia

Young people’s use of social media platforms and gaming sites can significantly impact their lives. These sites can be creative, fun and a great way of connecting with friends. However, they can also be addictive, all-consuming and have detrimental effects on mental health when sleep, exercise and social connection are impacted.

Who is your daughter interacting with?

There are other concerning aspects of these kinds of online entertainment that we cannot control, such as the age of the other users our children are interacting with.

The following data may be of concern if your daughter is only 14 and using TikTok, a free video-sharing platform where users can shoot, edit, and share short videos. There are few controls over what content can be shared.

  • 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24
  • 26% are aged between 18 and 24
  • 56% of TikTok users are male and 44% are female

Would we enable interactions offline with people from these age groups?

Setting and maintaining boundaries

What are the rules for the use of online devices in your home? We have expectations about many other aspects of living as a family but often we give free rein when it comes to devices. Decide on boundaries for use of the device with your daughter, preferably before purchasing. One rule that I believe is not negotiable is the golden rule of cybersafety, no devices in bedrooms.

Others to discuss include:

  • Where is the charging station? (Not in bedrooms)
  • How much online time is permitted?
  • What platforms and apps are suitable to use?
  • What behaviour is acceptable?
  • What are the expectations during study time?
  • What are the consequences for doing the wrong thing?

As parents, when enforcing boundaries becomes challenging it is much easier to give in. At the end of the day, when we are tired, we sometimes let our children take charge when we as parents should be in charge. It is hard, very hard and it gets more difficult as our children get older.

Implementing boundaries and good digital citizenship practices from day one of purchasing a device is the ideal. We need to start then because, once established, bad habits are hard to break and it becomes more difficult to implement rules.

The school’s responsibility

At school, we do our best to educate the girls about being responsible online citizens. We have monitoring systems for laptops onsite but we cannot oversee the use of devices at home. This responsibility belongs to each parent. It is much easier to monitor use at home if the device is only used in family areas where parents are present.

The College and parents need to work in partnership on this very challenging issue. We both have crucial roles to play and consistency is key.

Be informed

There is great information available from experts, not only on how to use the platforms but questions to ask when having discussions with your daughter. 

These discussions need to be consistent and open. You may not always like what you hear but your daughter needs to feel comfortable talking to you about what she is doing online. This communication will help keep your daughter safe.

These blogs previously written by the College can be found at the following links:

Other useful sites include:

Let us work together to educate our girls, and ourselves, in order to keep our children safe online.

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