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Children and Social Media​—Part 1: Should My Child Use Social Media?

Children and Social Media​—Part 1: Should My Child Use Social Media?

 In one survey, 97 percent of teenagers indicated that they use social media. Is your child eager to join the crowd? If so, there are a few things you should consider.

In this article

 Your child’s use of time

 “Social media platforms are designed to snare your attention, keep you online, and have you repeatedly checking your screen for updates,” says the website HelpGuide.

 “Minutes slip into hours as I’m scrolling through countless social media posts. It can be very hard to put down the phone and find something more productive to do.”—Lynne, 20.

 Ask yourself: Will my child have enough self-control to abide by the limits that I set for social media use? Is my child mature enough to set his or her own limits and abide by them?

 Bible principle: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is . . . as wise persons, making the best use of your time.”—Ephesians 5:15, 16.

Allowing your child to use social media without guidelines is like letting her ride a horse without proper training

 Your child’s view of friendship

 The term “social media” suggests that users have friends or are connected to the people they know. Often, though, that connection is superficial.

 “I’ve noticed that many young people wrongly think that if they get more likes or followers, that means more people really care about them, even if they don’t really know those people.”—Patricia, 17.

 Ask yourself: Does my child have the maturity to avoid placing undue importance on followers and likes? How well can he or she cultivate off-line friendships?

 Bible principle: “A true friend shows love at all times and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

 Your child’s emotional health

 Researchers have noted that excessive use of social media is associated with feeling lonely, anxious, and even depressed.

 “Seeing photos of what your friends are doing with your other friends—without you—is never a great feeling.”—Serena, 19.

 Ask yourself: Will my child have the maturity to avoid becoming self-focused, competitive, or unduly affected by what he or she sees others doing on social media?

 Bible principle: “Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another.”—Galatians 5:26.

 Your child’s online behavior

 Social media can open the door to cyberbullying, sexting, and viewing pornography. Even if your child does not initiate these behaviors, he or she could be exposed to them.

 “I notice that content on social media seems to go south easily. There is a lot of strong language and inappropriate music.”—Linda, 23.

 Ask yourself: Does my child have the maturity to be a good digital citizen? Will my child have the moral strength to turn away from inappropriate material?

 Bible principle: “Let sexual immorality and every sort of uncleanness or greediness not even be mentioned among you, . . . neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting.”—Ephesians 5:3, 4.

 Is social media necessary?

 Social media is not essential for life, not even for a comfortable, happy life. Many young ones are content to live without social media—including some who once used it but then decided to quit.

 “After seeing how my sister was negatively affected by her use of social media, I decided to quit using it. Ever since then, I’ve been happier and I feel that I’m getting more out of life.”—Nathan, 17.

 The bottom line: Before allowing your child to use social media, make sure he or she is mature enough to stick to time limits, maintain healthy friendships, and avoid inappropriate content.

 Bible principle: “The shrewd one ponders each step.”—Proverbs 14:15.