Social media and teenagers
How to become a digital role model
Parents play a vital role in helping young people to become healthy, happy adults.
Our children may seem to demand more of our time and attention during their early years, but active parental involvement is every bit as important for teens. It’s just different.
As young people become teenagers, they are likely to want to be independent, withdrawing from home life and becoming much more interested in their friends. That’s perfectly natural.
All the evidence shows, however, that outcomes for teenagers are better when the family remains involved, offering support during these sometimes difficult and emotional years.
This guidance extends to the online world. Parents now should fulfil an extra role for today’s teenagers, becoming digital role models.
Lead by example
As parents, we set rules for our children’s health and wellbeing: good sleep patterns, nutritious diet, regular exercise and prioritising schoolwork, for example. So when it comes to the use of technology, parents must lead the way - it’s not just teenagers who are using social media, after all!
Parents also want to share images, purchase goods online, interact with friends and colleagues and, often, use mobile devices to work. These are valid reasons to be online, but usage rules must be fair and consistent for all.
Children and young people are directly influenced by the online behaviour of parents. Be mindful of the positive online habits that you want your teenagers to develop in the digital world - and then show how it should be done.
Use technology intentionally
Social media and the digital world can be incredibly distracting and time-consuming, taking us away from more productive or positive pursuits. This doesn’t have to be the case.
Carefully think through what you’re looking to achieve before going online and focus on that. Set time limits for the internet and have the discipline to walk away when your task is complete. Respect your own time and don’t let the technology be in control of you.
Know when to switch off
Mobile technology and social media is designed to keep us hooked and wanting more. We can never hope to consume all of the information and entertainment that is on offer. We have to decide when it’s time to disconnect.
A big part of digitally healthy households is being clear on when devices are turned off for the night, as well as having dedicated digital detox times for the whole family. Decide what’s right for you, and then work together to stick to it.
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