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Growing Up Online

Social media - Tips for parents

The terms social networking and social media are often used in place of each other.

  • Social networking focuses on creating and keeping online relationships.
  • Social media is the digital technology used to get or send information.

Here, we’ll refer to social media as the online connections or relationships created between groups or individuals.

Some social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. But there are many other social media sites youth use. When your child starts to ask about these sites or use social media:

  • Be open and honest.
  • Let them know what others may say or do when using these sites.
  • Talk about the good things that social media can offer and what to look out for.

When your child wants to talk about social media, listen carefully to what they say. Show you’re listening by asking questions and repeating back to them what you heard.

Listening in this way helps your child understand that you can be trusted. It also lets them know you’re there for support. This helps them feel safe and know that they can talk to you about what they see or hear online.

To help you manage and protect your child on their digital technology, use:

  • parental controls
  • privacy settings

Parental controls can help you:

  • set time limits on how much your child uses their device
  • track your child’s calls, texts, location, and social media activity
  • filter certain types of web content to protect your child from things you don’t want them to see online

Privacy settings can help you:

  • control who sees your child’s personal information
  • make online security better for everyone at home
  • lower your risk of spams, scams, frauds, and cyber attacks that try to steal your personal or banking information

Find out more about spams, scams, frauds, and identity theft.

Tips to help you keep your child safe while using social media​

  • ​Set up a safety plan. This includes updating security software, using different passwords on social media accounts, teaching youth to only accept friend requests from people they know well, and checking any new sites before your child uses them.​
  • Block your child from being able to make purchases within applications (called in-app purchases).
  • Teach your child about the possible harms of social media.
  • Learn how to use the apps that they use to make sure they’re using them safely.
  • Know the signs of social media becoming a problem.

How do you know if your child might have a problem with social media?

Social media becomes a problem when it harms your child’s mental or physical health, or has unwanted effects on their day-to-day life.

You may want to talk to your child about their social media use if they:

  • are on social media often and get upset when they’re interrupted
  • don’t want to cut back on using social media, even when they know it’s causing problems
  • can’t stop thinking about social media
  • feel sad, upset, or frustrated when using or after using social media
  • have a hard time keeping up healthy habits, such as sleeping or eating well
  • don’t take care of their day-to-day responsibilities or participate in social activities, such as doing school work or chores, going to dances, or spending time with the family pet
  • have trouble talking to or being with friends, family, or others in person
  • start acting different, such as lying, sneaking around, and pushing limits for online activities
  • argue more than usual

Your child might say:

You might say:

“I just want to make friends, I feel shy.”

“You can meet people by going out and doing social activities. Let’s get more involved in the community. I’ll go with you.”

“Everybody at school posts videos and photos. Why can’t I?”

“I know you want to post pictures and videos to stay connected to your friends. But what else can you do to stay connected?”

For help and support, contact Alberta Health Services Youth Addiction Services at 1-866-332-2322 (toll free in Alberta).

See the Resources section for more information.​​

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