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Q: How much social media use is too much for my teen?

Many parents are concerned about kids’ social media use. But because they’re usually so much more tech-savvy than we are, it can be hard to know how to take control.

The bottom line is social media is not all bad. There can be benefits for kids to being online, like connecting with friends and family, learning about the world, and exploring their identities. However, there are also downsides, like increased isolation, lower self-esteem, and exposure to inappropriate content. Parents can help by talking with kids and setting age-appropriate boundaries, so kids can learn to use social media in a healthy way.

Start by setting limits for how kids use their devices. Rules can include no devices at the table, time limits on social media use each day, and finishing chores and homework before going online. Other recommended limits are that kids turn off their screens at least an hour before bed and that there are no devices in their room after bedtime.

Have a conversation with your kids about how to be responsible and safe online. This includes not "friending" strangers or sharing private information, thinking about how the comments or photos they post might affect their reputation, and being kind to others online. Talk about what to do if they’re bullied or harassed, and ask them to come to you if a stranger contacts them in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

Remind kids that people “curate” their images online, and that what they see on others pages doesn’t always reflect reality. Talk about why it’s not healthy to compare yourself to others. Keeping a constant, open conversation with your kids about social media, online interactions, and their online presence is a cornerstone to safe use.

Finally, it’s important to set a good example with your own behavior! Remember that your kids are watching what you post on social media as well. Model respectful and responsible social media use for your kids, and remember to also turn off your device during family time. As always, if you have any concerns or want to talk further, schedule an appointment with your child’s primary care provider.

Travis W. Glenn, MD

Family medicine

Glenn Family Medicine, LLC
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, , HI 96793