This video looks at the amount of time
kids spend on social media and how their health and wellbeing could be
impacted by excessive online use. One of the main concerns parents have about
social media is how much time their kids spend using it and the potential impacts
on their physical and mental wellbeing. Social media provide kids with
invaluable tools for communicating and for trying on and playing with different
identities, which by the way is totally normal behaviour for tweens and teens. But
the work of crafting and maintaining all of these personas can be very stressful,
and when kids spend a lot of time on their friends’ social networks, they may
feel like everyone else is having a better life than them or start to
question their own abilities, accomplishments, personality or appearance.
Teens in particular are very sensitive about how they are portrayed online and
may go to great lengths to associate themselves with a certain type of
lifestyle through posts and images. Although the online world is a very real
part of their lives, teens need to understand that much of what they see
online, whether it’s posted by celebrities, friends or themselves, is as
carefully crafted as what they see on TV or movies. While posting selfies can be a
way for young people to express themselves and receive positive feedback
from friends and family, this can also create pressure to compete and compare
with others around them. There’s also a need for validation from friends on
everything they post, which means kids check their accounts constantly.
Tweens and teens may have difficulty pulling themselves away from their
devices due to “fear of missing out”, also known as FOMO, which includes
sleeping with their devices in case they get calls or status updates during the
night. Many kids are aware that this is a problem. More than a third worry that
they spend too much time online. It’s important to teach kids good habits for
balancing their online and offline lives. Here are some helpful tips for managing
screen time from other parents. Encourage your kids to take a “tech break” from
constantly checking their devices, maybe 10 minutes every hour. Consider making
one day a week a “digital Sabbath” for the whole family.
Put a “tech curfew” in place one hour before bedtime for your kids to wind
down. There’s a lot of evidence that looking at screens is bad for your sleep.
Declare “no device zones” in your home, including the dinner table and the
bathroom. Set up a recharging station where all devices are parked overnight.
Program your wireless router or game console to set specific times for
internet access during the day. Change the Wi-Fi password daily and only give
it out if their beds are made and homework is done. Another option, and one that’s
much gentler than nagging our kids, is to encourage non-digital family activities,
for example helping out in the kitchen, an after-dinner soccer game, a walk in
the park. It’s easier to put the devices aside when kids need both hands for
something else, and most appreciate having their parents’ undivided attention,
which brings us to our final point. Always remember that kids pay at least
as much attention to what we do as to what we say, so the most important step
we can take to help our kids develop good media habits is to make sure we’re
setting a good example in how we use social media
and digital devices ourselves. Thank you for watching! This video was created by
MediaSmarts with financial support from Bell. It is part of a series for
parents so they can help their kids safely and responsibly navigate social
media. For more parent resources, please visit mediasmarts.ca.