8 Tips on Social Media and Our Children

Many of you may or may not be familiar with a series I run asking parents with smalls to write about their thoughts on their children becoming teens. Overridingly, the biggest fear, raised time and time again is the impact of social media on children. I have three teens, this fear is real. Heightened also by my own love of social media, I’m only too aware that I need to practise what I preach. That can be hard! Balance is key and so with that in mind, last weekend myself, alongside Jayne and Sarah from BE Integrative Therapy, held our first event at Forge & Co in Shoreditch, London discussing all things social media and our children.

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Sarah and Jayne are counsellors. Their expertise is wide but one of their focuses is on children. Sadly, they are only too aware of the negative impact social media can have on this age group. For me, they were the perfect experts to have lead the session. Yes, social media can have a huge negative impact, but, as Sarah and Jayne, recognise, the benefits are huge too.

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Social media is a vast topic area with lots of sub-areas such as cyber-bullying, unrealistic image portrayal and addiction. It would be almost impossible to tackle all of these aspects in the short time available so the discussion focused mainly on social media in general and how to keep our children safe through our parenting.

For many who were unable to make the event, I promised a summary. Here below are the main points from the discussion:

1. Social Media is not going to go away so the more we stay abreast of the issues and the more informed we are the better. We can’t as parents, and shouldn’t, hide away from the issues.

2. There is no need to introduce your children to social media from a young age unless you want to. It is your choice. They will, of course, learn about it through friends, family and other social settings but you can set the limits and the safety elements, as you feel appropriate.

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3. Communication is key. Keep those lines of communication open through childhood and onward into the teen years. Make it easy for your children to talk to you. Always make the time. Let them be able to come to you if they are concerned. If from a young age they know that they can talk to you without you screaming and shouting they will feel more confident in discussing their concerns and worries.

4. Be careful of your own reactions to a situation they may talk to you about related to social media. If you need to digest what they have told you, let them know that you will come back to them on the subject. Better that, than an explosive immediate reaction. The fact that they have come to you is a huge positive to be praised.

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5. It is important to remember, despite the hype of negativity around social media, that the majority of children will be OK. You can’t micromanage every situation and it is important that they learn from their mistakes too. We aren’t talking about the serious issues here but the small mistakes that are a good eye opener. By learning from their mistakes, this will help them grow into well-rounded, capable, problem-solving adults.

6. From a young age, introduce family time-out situations from screen time. So no phones at dinner. Make this a normality in your household so that as they get older they appreciate the importance of family time and conversation. We are all only too aware of those families in restaurants that are all sat on their phones instead of talking to each other. Let’s keep the conversation flowing. This will help feed into point 3 where communication is key.

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7. Relay your own experiences to your children. If they come to you for advice about a social media issue, impart your advice in a positive way and not a dictating way. So less “stop doing that” and more “have you tried to do this?”

8. Look for the signs also that your child seems out of character. It may be they’ve witnessed something on their phone that has upset them. Keep chatting. Find the best moments for your child when you feel they may open up, in the car, just before bedtime. Don’t ignore. However small it may appear to you it could be a huge issue for them.

Sarah and Jayne make valid points. By taking the time to keep communication open, most issues shouldn’t blow out of proportion or escalate to total disaster. Interestingly, before the session, all of our phones were taken away and we were asked how we felt. After the initial feeling of having lost a limb, it was hugely liberating. I urge you to put that phone down for a few hours. Seriously!

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I would like to thank Gift Pop Boutique, The Foundry Design, Sas & Yosh and Box D Gifting for their generous donations to the goodie bags. Please check out their Instagram feeds for more gorgeous gifts. Thanks also to Sunita from Lucky Things Blog and to my daughter, Ella, for taking the photos!

Finally, I can’t thank Sarah and Jayne enough for agreeing to come along and chat at my first event. Huge thanks, also, to all of those who came along. We were overwhelmed by the positive response so have decided to hold another event on the 16th September looking at positive parenting and the picking of battles! Details of tickets for this event can be found here. Would love you to come along and join the chat. Just saying!

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64 thoughts on “8 Tips on Social Media and Our Children

  1. We were thrilled to be part of it, and can’t wait for the next event. A big thank you from us too for all those that took part in a lively session, it was fantastic to meet you all. Teaming up with Helen has been a pleasure and through her presence on Instagram we have met so many wonderful people. The power of ‘social media’ has come shining through and provided a truly positive message that can be shared with our children. Thank you Helen

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    1. Oh I hope the tips are helpful. We will in time explore some other issues within social media but this was a general discussion to get the conversation flowing and get the issues out there. Thank you for your comment lovely xx

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  2. It sounds like a wonderful event, congratulations! Thanks for the summary – as you know I’m one of the ones who worries A LOT about the influence social media will have on the kids. Great tips thank you x #bigpinklink

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  3. It’s such a hard thing isn’t it? The internet and social media are amazing tools to be enjoyed. I am very pro free speech so think that no site should be banned, however, and it’s a big however, we have to be so careful with young, growing minds. My 2 had phones aged 12 but I expect, like your children Helen, they grew up almost before social media even though they are 17 and 15! I really don’t think children aged 11 nod below need a phone. The other thing I find tricky is how much privacy to give them with their phone? I tend to go with they have to give me their phone whenever I want to check it until they reach 16. At that point, its private and I hope I’ve done my bit! Great post. X

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    1. Ah that’s a good point about checking the phone until 16. You’re right that hopefully by then we have done our bit and raised them to be adults. Yes, mine had their younger childhood without social media – I’m glad that wasn’t a pressure as a tween for sure. Thank you for your comment xx

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  4. That sounds like a brilliant event Helen! And this post is very reassuring-I’ve been massively naive, and doing point number 1 a lot-hoping social media will go away, when obviously it just isn’t going to! Because I’m such a panicker, I’ll see something negative in the news about social media-somebody has been kidnapped/bullied/commit suicide and immediately I make useless statements like ‘the boys are never having phones, we are getting rid of all technology,’ which is of course ridiculous! I feel comforted by these steps, that I will be able to manage my fears, and support them, through good communication, and boundaries.
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink!

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  5. Wow this event sounds brilliant! I really wish I could’ve made it because the information you’ve summarized just sounds so practical and insightful. I think the bit that jumps out for me is the reminder that the majority of children will be fine. I needed this encouragement because I’m definitely more prone to over-worry about things. #dreamteam

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      1. Positive parenting is such an important issue to me. I will see what I can do. I’m just not very good at travelling. Eek!

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      2. Aaaw that’s such a nice offer! I will have a look at the train times and message you. I’d definitely love to com – sounds like a fab event!

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  6. There is really great advice here. I’m a huge advocate for getting to grips with social media, not for my own gratification, but to understand it enough for the sake of my children. #BigPinkLink

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  7. This sounds like such a brilliant event Helen. We’re a little way off having to worry about Social Media just yet with my two but I know it will be upon us in no time. My hubby and I have totally different feelings about it too which I know will make things harder. He would prefer to ban them all together as he doesn’t agree with it at all. (Not even for adults – and I, his wife, am a blogger – you can imagine the debates can’t you!) I worry that banning it will just leave them sneaking it in behind our backs and feeling that they can’t talk to us about it. At least I have a few years to work on him. I think I’ll casually leave this post open for him to read too. Thanks for linking with #DreamTeam xx

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    1. Oh ouch to the debates! My hubby sounds similar to yours – it can get very tricky here too! I’d love to know his response! Thank you for your lovely comment and if you live near London would love to see you at the next event about positive parenting xx

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  8. Some excellent advice Helen and well done on organising your first event – I’d have been there if I lived closer, for sure. I think it’s so important that we set the example as parents, even this can be hard as a blogger. I find I tell me children when I’m ‘working’ that they know I’m working and not just surfing. I want them to be able to differentiate.
    Love the sound of your next meet up too, all these subjects are very close to my heart.

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    1. Oh the telling the children that I’m working and not just scrolling instagram is one of my tactics too – however, they know me too well so I do get caught out. I definitely need to practise what I preach a little more for sure. Thank you for your very supportive comment xx

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  9. Sounds like a really great event and this post is so useful. We do most of these things already, but having it confirmed that you’re on the right track is so encouraging. Hopefully it’ll all work out

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    1. Ah glad Sarah & Jayne’s tips have you feeling that you are on the right track! Thank you for your comment xx are you able to make our next event on positive parenting? Would be great to meet you! x

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  10. My son is 9 and already some children in his class have social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram which feels really early to me. Having not grown up with social media, it feels very foreign, the territory uncertain. I am most worried about bullying and other safety issues social media can bring. It’s uncharted waters at our house and I am thankful for your informative and reassuring post. Neve x

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    1. You’re absolutely right, the not having grown up with social media can make this very tricky. If you feel you need more advice please feel free to contact Sarah & Jayne directly – their link is on my blog xx

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  11. Sensible advice. Communication is at the crux of everything with teens and especially with regard to social media. I feel we have crossed most of the milestones with social media but then there is always one more thing that pops up. We are lucky in that both of our teens’ schools are also quite on top of everything in this regard but without the open relationship we have as a family I fear the journey would not have been as smooth. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. It’s amazing how communication underpins so much of our parenting and if done well can be just so beneficial. Great that your schools are so on it too. Thank you for your comment and for sharing this post xx

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  12. It sounds like you had a hugely successful first event – congratulations! Some brilliant tips here. My little one is only 2 but there are definitely some behaviours here I can exhibit and introduce now to help in the future. Thanks for sharing xx #FamilyFunLinky & #fortheloveofBLOG

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    1. Oh thank you! We were overwhelmed with the response. Would love if you could make the next event if you live close to London? It’s relative to all age groups of children too! xx

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  13. Helen, this was an amazing first event. Everything about it was great. We all learnt so much and it was cool hearing Sarah and Jayne’s tips. It’s such a tricky topic. Sorry I can’t make the one on 16the September as I’ll be running an event in Bristol but I will def be at the one after! #fortheloveofBLOG

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      1. Thanks Helen. So happy you’ve started your events too. They’re amazing. You’re going to have to set another date now so I can get one in the diary 😉 #fortheloveofBLOG

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  14. An extremely useful post. As mums and bloggers, we owe a responsibility to our kids. We need to be there to counsel them about the right and wrong uses of social media. Communication is key, as you mention. So I hope more parents stay open to that idea. My tween will probably be on social media soon and I am always one to advocate moderation, especially on social media. Let’s hope that translates to her as well.
    #TweensTeensBeyond

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  15. Great tips here, thank you so much Helen for this! Working so very hard here on no. 3, since recently seeing within my family what lack of communication brings about… I’ll pass on your sound advice.
    #FamilyFun

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  16. Very good points indeed and ones that need to keep being said as all our little children grow. Well done on the success of the event and I wish you luck with the next!
    ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

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  17. #dreamteam Well jel of those lovely bags of loveliness. Agree that both sides of social media and online behaviour are crucial to any discussion. We (at my school) allow phones in school – because they are an amazing resource, most of the errors on social media are usually down the younger tweenies learning social skills and BOY am glad my social mistakes of the past are online for all to see. There is also so much awesome technology out there to help parents have virtual eyes.

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    1. You’re so right about the positives for sure. The mistakes do tend to happen with the younger ones as they are trying to learn. It’s not easy for them. I’m glad too that my social mistakes weren’t public. Oh the virtual eyes – love! Thank you for your comment xx

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  18. Brilliant advice here. Social media is a worry of mine as my son gets older. It’s nothing I have to worry about now and indeed in the near future, however, it’s still a concern. I do often wonder if by the time my son is a teenager the social media obsession would have crashed and burned. Who knows! #coolmumclub

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  19. Really valuable tips here as it’s a topic of conversation that comes up again and again amongst my friends and I with our tweens all about to head into that time of their lives when suddenly other kids are joining instagram etc. I totally agree that we need to move with the times and accept that social media is here to stay and is part of our children’s lives. As much as I’d love to throw out all screens, this isn’t a reality in our life – and like you, I must lead by example as since starting my blog I’m just as bad and need to tell myself to put the phone down! Love to come to your next event – fantastic that you’re running these events covering topics that we’re all facing in bringing up our kids. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. Oh you are just at the start of that whole social media territory with your children. I’m glad you found this post useful. It really is about keeping those lines of communication open from a young age – not as easy as it sounds and it does take huge amounts of commitment as a parent – particularly when those teen years hit – they are prone to not wanting to talk! Oh I’d love you to make our next event in September! Let me know if you need any more info xx #

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  20. I have a teenage boy, 15, who is on the Autism Spectrum. Fortunately for me he hasn’t expressed any interest in social media. He barely likes to text on his phone, accept when he has a problem or is really excited about something then he texts either me or his dad. I have a 10 year old son though who does want to be on social media but I believe he is too young for that. To prepare him for when he is ready though I have talks with him about social media both the good and the bad. I agree with you that open communication with your child and listening to them are the best way to ensure their safety because my son knows he can come to me or to his father for anything. This is a wonderful post that I know so many parents would love to read! Definitely sharing! #ablogginggoodtime

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    1. Oh thank you for your lovely supportive comment. I can’t believe how much of a part good communication plays with so many aspects of parenting. Keeping those lines of communication open just make everything so much easier in the long run. Thank you for your comment and I wish you all the best with your boys xx

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  21. I can vouch for everything you have said here as well as the benefits of chatting and meeting lots of lovely people at the event with lots of sharing and advice being given. I will be there and thanks for joining sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

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  22. This is a topic I have been thinking a lot about too with a tween who is technology mad and on what’s app now. I do think communication is key and having those tech free times too but loved point 5. I think that’s a really good point made and parents shouldn’t worry too much. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

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  23. It looks and sounds like such a successful event Helen. Thanks too for rounding it up in this post for those who couldn’t attend – it sounds to me like talking and being open is the way forward. My five year old casually muttered something about instagram the other day and I nearly fell off my chair! Guess they are little sponges soaking it all in…
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

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  24. It really bothers me when I get ‘told off’ for mine having any knowledge of social media or screens in general. I completely agree that these things are not going away, but that it is our job (on an ever-growing list of jobs!) to teach our kids how to use them safely. This is a fantastic post, and the event looks wonderful! #fortheloveofBLOG

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  25. Well done on such a well received and successful event. Such good advice here – I’m so pleased you summarised the tips for us all who weren’t there. communication is so important isn’t it?! I really hope we keep the lines open as our 3 get older. #familyfunlinky

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  26. Thanks so much for sharing these, they are brilliant tips. I know that this sort of guidance is so badly needed because loads of parents feel out of their depth. I’m one of them! I have to take three different approaches because my three girls are all at different stages. It’s an evolving situation – just when you think you have things under control the sands shift! Well done for organising such an important event. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

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  27. Brilliant advice. We’re a few years away from this stage yet but we have talked about it already and I try to always be available to listen and make an effort to put my phone away for family time x
    #ablogginggoodtime

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  28. What a fabulous event. It is so so important and posts and events like these really are so helpful. It will be one I will be pinning to remind myself of in the time to come. I totally agree with no screen time, especially at the dining table and keeping communication open. I am so conscious to always listen to my two year olds when they have something to say as non matter how trivial or Mundane it might seem now, it is here where our open relationship starts. To them it is the important thing in the world and making the time to listen now, I hope (pray) is setting good foundations for open communication between as they grow older – if that makes sense. Congratulations on what sounds like a wonderful event. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

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  29. That looks like an awesome event! I am very concerned about social media as a whole, but also the privacy issue when it comes to my blog and my girls.
    We always turn all things electronic off when we’re having a family dinner, which is most nights. I must say, my husband is the one who struggles with this the most! lol
    #ablogginggoodtime

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  30. This is such an important topic and, as you say, something that’s not going to go away! I often feel that being a blogger gives us a bit of a heads up as at least we’re clued up on social media. Having said that, our kids do see us on our phones a lot and I wonder what kind of example that sets…I totally agree with taking time out from screens during family time, especially over dinner. Some fantastic tips and sounds like it was a fab event! Well done you xx #coolmumclub

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  31. So many useful tips and points here Helen, and you make it sound so easy. I’m with you, and would encourage my daughter to talk to me, and not go into a screaming fit. Although I think as parents that’s very easy to do,I seem to remember my parents doing that when I was naughty at school :0. I also completely agree with you on the no phones around the dinner, that’s super important to do, and something I need to get better at myself. Thanks so much for sharing this post with us at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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