Heads bent, eyes hidden from view, fingers moving rapidly — even an earthquake couldn’t distract them. Medically, this is known as Social Media Zombie-ism (okay, so I made that up) and has reached epidemic proportion due to an obsession with electronic devices. It certainly affects my kids. Children also suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as they engage in the social world frenzy that is at their fingertips. Besides, it’s not like we are setting the best example; we are often device-zombies ourselves. It seems innocent until you add up the hours of missed conversations and physical activity; only then do you realize the slippery slope.
Gut check here: putting devices in their hands benefits us as parents. It works to keep them occupied because when they are bored, trouble is not far behind. We allow the excess usage often for our own benefit.
Here are some suggested boundaries you should consider; and yes, boundaries are needed and healthy for kids and adults!
1) Let device time be more of a reward than expectation.
Our kids expect to be able to be on their devices rather than seeing it as a privilege. Retrain them!
2) Set the example by your own balance in using social media.
When our children see us on our devices 24/7, do we really expect them to do otherwise? They are following our example!
3) Don’t just limit time on devices, but set time for face-to-face interaction and connection.
We are becoming less and less personal thanks to social media. We don’t spend time in face-to-face conversation as we did 20 years ago. We need to set time aside to have meaningful and personal conversations away from social media.
4) Set privacy settings so only friends can interact with your child.
I probably don’t have to tell you that social media can be a dangerous place for kids. There are a lot of people with evil intentions looking for kids to victimize. Don’t wait until it is too late to set something up.
5) Check your kids’ social media accounts for secret accounts.
I have learned that many kids have secret Instagram accounts for example. By its very nature, there is nothing good about a kid having a secret account that parents are not allowed to see. Don’t be naive and think your kid would never do this. It is the naive parents whose kids do want they want behind parents back. Ask your children what types of social media they are using and be sure to check thoroughly. There are many options out there and our children are using them, often unbeknownst to us!