Setting Social Media Limits for your Pre Teens

Social media is a relatively new platform upon which relationships are built, maintained, and destroyed.  While there are many people of all ages using various social media sites, it is the younger generation that is most active on them.  As with every other technological advance, there are both good and bad aspects of social media sites, and it is up to parents of pre-teens to set limits that will protect them from the negatives that can come about.

Setting limits on the social media that your pre-teen uses will involve three basic things.  The first issue is the matter of privacy.  The second is the issue of the amount of time that they are spending on these sites.  The third and final thing that parents should establish limits on is the content that their pre-teens are posting on the sites.

Privacy

Social media sites all have privacy settings where you can go and decide who gets to see what on your pre-teen’s profile.  Sit down with the child and make decisions together, explaining safety concerns and issues that can come about with the use of social networking.  Set up privacy setting that allow only friends and family to view your child’s profile, especially their photos and personal information.  There are predators on these sites who love little more than discovering the profiles of pre-teens that are able to be accessed.

Be sure to also discuss the extent to which the child can expect personal privacy in regards to their social networking sites.  As pre-teens, they are still at an age when they need your guidance and supervision, but are also at the age that they are beginning to expect some privacy.  If the pre-teen has proven him or herself trustworthy over a period of time of social networking, you may want to agree to something such as not randomly checking their social networking page, but letting them know when you are.  This is not for the purpose of letting them hide things from you, but for the purpose of giving them a sense of being trusted and not always feeling like you are looking over their shoulder, so to speak.

Time

The parent who places no time limits on the pre-teen who has discovered and entered the world of social networking is one who is putting their child at great risk.  There are several problems that can, and too often do, occur with unlimited social networking.

The first problem is that the pre-teen will usually spend time on social networking sites that should really be devoted to things of greater importance at this stage in their lives.  Grades in school can suffer because homework may be neglected when the young person is spending the majority of their after school hours on these sites.  Household chores will take a backseat and this can cause undue stress within the family.  These are just to name a couple of the issues that are relatively common.  It is beneficial to have rules that ensure that your pre-teen’s responsibilities are being met prior to the time that log on to the social networking world.

Pre-teens are also at an important stage in their mental and physical development, a stage of growth and maturing.  In order for them to get through this time in good health, they have a need for proper rest.  A pre-teen who is allowed to be on social networking sites for unlimited amounts of time may find themselves sitting for hours on end, often well past the time that they should be going to sleep.  This can lead to health, attitude, and even social troubles.

Content

Although social networking sites were not created with the intent of being less than appropriate for users, there aren’t enough safeguards in place to ensure that the pre-teen is not being exposed to content that he or she shouldn’t be at this life stage.  Pre-teens who are allowed to roam freely about on social networking sites can be exposed to photos that border on the pornographic, links that can take them to other sites that are not meant for this age, and conversations that are inappropriate, such as those about sex or drug use, or just completely vulgar language.

Social networking sites are filled with all sorts of different people and with that comes a variety of postings and photos, many of which aren’t suitable for the pre-teen to view.  Parents can set some safeguards on the computer and/or site, but these aren’t always as effective as you might wish that they were.  Sit down with your pre-teen and talk about what is and is not allowed for them to do as they “cruise the site”.  You may also want to keep track of where they have visited by looking over the computer history from time to time.

While social networking sites can be fun ways for pre-teens to keep in touch with family and friends, as well as have an outlet for self-expressive creativity, there are dangers involved, too.  The sites aren’t the “root of all evil”, but they can present problems if there aren’t parents monitoring what is being taken in and put out by the child.  By setting limits and controls on their privacy, content, and time, you will be allowing your child to enjoy the good parts of these sites while protecting them from the negatives aspects to every extent possible.