Keeping Your Child Safe on Social Media and Managing Their Usage

Social media has become a significant influence over children and teenagers, making it challenging to detach them from their phones or iPads without triggering emotional or behavioral outbursts.

Popular platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok are commonly used for self-expression, messaging, and following influencers and celebrities. Children can spend 3 to 6 hours a day on these sites, if no boundaries are set.

On the bright side, social media helps kids stay connected with peers, learn about current events through the posts they read, and express creativity through art and music sharing. However, the downside includes increased screen time disrupting sleep, reduced face-to-face interactions, addictive scrolling habits, susceptibility to negative influences, emotional regulation issues, and cyberbullying risks. Limited self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure make children particularly vulnerable while using social media.

Some signs to observe in children include:

  • Daily routines are disrupted, such as staying up late due to phone usage.
  • Repetitively negotiating that they will do homework only if allowed phone access, or negotiating for more phone time than homework time.
  • Displaying secretive behavior, like turning off or hiding the phone when a parent enters the room.
  • Showing withdrawn behavior such as reluctance to socialize by avoiding outings with friends, family or attend any classes in real life.
  • Decline in school grades.

Here are some tips for managing your children’s social media use:

  • Discuss the risks of connecting with strangers online.
  • Address cyberbullying with your children and encourage them to maintain positive interactions in their posts and comments.
  • Teach your children the significance of creating strong passwords and utilizing privacy settings to safeguard against issues like identity theft.
  • Emphasize to them that once pictures or videos are online, they remain there permanently, even if deleted from the social media platform.
  • Parents can participate in reviewing and guiding their children’s social media posts to ensure appropriate content and provide guidance on social media usage.

Some suggestions for helping children reduce their social media consumption:

  • Parents can limit iPad and phone usage to short periods daily or weekly.
  • Encourage children to participate in activities and classes.
  • If signs of cyberbullying are present (eg: low mood, nervous when using social media, reluctance to attend school), speak with your child to understand the situation.

It is important for parents to acknowledge the influence and presence of social media, to comprehend its significance and impact for children and teenagers in today’s society. While social media can be beneficial, excessive use can have harmful consequences. If a child is showing signs of emotional dysregulation, low mood, social withdrawal, or cyberbullying, seeking assistance from a child psychologist is highly recommended for both the parent and child.


Kavitha Manokaran

Languages: English, Tamil

Senior Clinical Psychologist


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