Unfortunately there’s no official set of guidelines parents can use to properly set screen time or introduce their tweens to social media – particularly around more risky platforms like Snapchat.
Enter Priya Rajendran, a software engineer and technology veteran who lead the team that built the PayPal Wallet.
Based on her 20 years of work as a technologist, helping families manage their day to day lives online as the founder of S’moresUp, a free family app – and after introducing her own preteen daughter to social media – Priya thinks parents must follow an important template before introducing kids to social media.
She’s developed a “Social Media Skills Checklist” to help other parents teach tweens and teens critical social media skills.
So what skills should parents teach their kids before they find Snapchat?
BE AWARE OF INFLUENCERS AND #SPON
Your kids will be unknowingly exposed to advertisements, especially from personalities they admire. Explain the concept of promotional posts, and show them how to tell if something is trying to influence you to buy something.
AVOID STRANGER DANGER
Differentiate between friends they know in real life and people they have never met. You might set rules like they can only friend family members initially, until they are 15. Explain the danger of adults who might pose as kids to harm them.
SOCIAL IS FOREVER
Kids don’t understand the permanence of social media, and that comments and photos are part of their online reputation for life. Teach them to carefully think about any photo or update they share; to avoid posting something in anger; or to check with you if they are unsure. Explain the danger of screenshots.
USE IT WISELY
Show them social media isn’t all games; teach them about the usefulness of social platforms for adults, like how they’ll use LinkedIn once they start college
LESS THAN SEVEN HOURS
Social media usage has the potential to turn into an addiction. Teach your kids to set time limits for how long they will spend on their social media apps so they get in the habit of putting their phones down for their own mental health – significantly less than 7 hours. Lead by example and set limits on your own screen time.
Photo Credit: Alexa Suter