Setting Social Media Boundaries for your Teenage Daughters
You may find it difficult to set social media boundaries with your young girls. Sometimes, they can be very sensitive to matters of privacy, freedom, and decision-making. Even though you would like to offer them guidance, you think you might intrude on their privacy, so you’re afraid to do so. Now, how would you help them set social media boundaries?
As a parent, you know your children better than anyone else, so you’re in the best position to guide them on how to behave online. However, when you cannot handle them or the situation on your own, it is okay to seek support from your parents or expert professionals. But first, you should get yourself familiar with social media and how it works so that you can pull a good conversation with your girls.
How does social media affect us?
Social media is great. It keeps us connected and updated with friends and family around the world. Many, especially teens who suffer from depression or anxiety get support from social media communities. In fact, a survey from 2018 found that depressed teens turn to social media for support, according to nbcnews.com.
While social networks seem to be popular among everyone, young girls are still susceptible to their negative effects. They are likely to be addicted to them and become withdrawn from the outside world. If not monitored closely, they may overshare, share inappropriate media or memes, start a social media war, and even bully others. In addition, they can be targets of harassment and cyberbullying.
They may use social media as a means of sharing their problems and issues with friends, rather than families. It’s natural for teens to share more with friends and less with you, but you definitely want to keep yourself in the loop. Since it’s not easy to stop them from using social media, you may find ways to connect with them in a healthy way.
You probably know by now that demanding your teen to share with you or stop using social media is a wasted effort if you don’t have a good relationship with them. To establish a good relationship with them, you must openly validate that they are an independent young adult and welcome their desire to be independent. This is difficult for many parents to grapple with, but you must do this first step. They will cease to listen to you if they think you are controlling them. So, here are some healthy ways to connect with them:
- Ask them out to their favorite places, may it be boba or dessert place. Make it fun and lighthearted.
- Game night. Turn off the TV because your child has already spent too much time in front of the screen.
- Get a parent and child journal (like this on Amazon)
- Joke and laugh with them (but no personal or body image attacks). A little laughter causes the release of a happy chemical in the brain called oxytocin that helps us feel connected.
- Find ways to resolve conflicts between you and your partner (or co-parent if you are separated). Teens refrain from sharing with adults if we adults don’t even know how to solve our own problems.
- Make it fun. Be in their post. Do a Tiktok with them.
When you have a good relationship with your teen, you have more social currency to give guidance.
Here are some tips for helping your teen set healthy boundaries with social media:
- Encourage them not to post inappropriate articles or photos online as this will negatively impact their image. Ask them the hypothetical question: is this something you would want your loved ones (ie. a crush, a grandparent, a respected teacher) to see? This may get them to rethink their actions.
- Guide them to share meaningful constructive thoughts. It’s good to teach them to be good cyber citizens and be thoughtful about their posts.
- Ensure they understand that anything they write or post lasts forever. Teach them to think before they share.
- Ask them to share problems with you or your family members directly rather than post them online.
- Make sure that you speak with them regularly and let them know that you’re interested in what’s happening in their networks. This includes knowing who they follow on social media and what type of content they are up to.
- Let your girls know that you can talk to them if they feel that they are being cyberbullied. They might know everything about it, but they may not know what to do if it happens to them.
- Make them aware of online harassment. Ask them to let you know if they discover boys who are trying to extort them, or make them do silly things.
- For information, visit this blog post to find out how to carefully handle teens who make fake accounts.
Some ground rules to establish in setting healthy boundaries with them:
- 80/20 rule: Share with you 80% and on social media 20%. That way, they can get guidance from you and not overshare to a creepy (I mean unintended) audience.
- “Hypothetical Person” rule. If they have a difficulty and they can say it’s a hypothetical friend, you won’t judge them or be angry at them for it.
- Personal identification rule. Tell them that they don’t need to include all of their personal information in their social accounts for safety reasons. Remind them to accept friend requests from people they only know.
- Set time limits for your young girl to go online. Develop a schedule at home that tells them when and how long they can use the computer.
- Privacy setting. Help them secure their accounts and location tracking on their phone camera. Check the privacy policies and settings of each social media site they use. Make sure their accounts are secured, and they do not share their passwords with anyone except you.
- Veto rights. As a parent, it’s reasonable to ask that you have all their passwords and final veto rights if you deem something is inappropriate or dangerous.
One thing to remember: relationship first. A good relationship with your child goes a long way. Don’t pit yourself against your child on social media issues. It’s important to invite your teen in how to solve this problem with you.
When parenting them with these does not work, it’s time to ask for help. Contact us. We can help you get through this challenging time.