Josh recently received an email from a concerned mom about social media guidelines for her son. This is what she said:
Is it too late to establish guidelines if my son is nearly 17? He has only had his phone (and social media sites) since September and I already see a difference in him. Also, I am looking for some suggestions on appropriate amounts of time for the student to have their phones. I know that is part of the parent/child agreement, and it is up to the parent… but do you have any specific suggestions? I am angry at myself that my husband and I did not set up these guidelines before allowing our son to have a phone. (He purchased it himself but we pay for the service).
The mom came on the Smart Social Podcast to share her phone and social media struggles with other parents. Josh offered her four important tips – to help combat smartphone and social media addiction. Listen to the podcast episode below.
It Doesn’t Matter if They Pay for Their Own Phone
When students under 18 are living under your roof, you have permission to protect them at all costs. The mom Josh spoke with was worried about disrespecting her son by implementing rules after the fact. But there are 7 billion people in contact with your students through the apps they are on. And social media apps are more addicting than cigarettes and alcohol, according to the top leading experts.
It’s important to explain why you are implementing these new rules. Watch our mini courses with your students so you don’t have to be the bad guy. Two great courses to start with are Dangers Every Parent Should Know Before Giving Their Student an iPhone and How to Set Up Parental Controls on an iPhone.
Let’s say you buy one gallon of your student’s favorite ice cream, then go home and tell your student they can watch Netflix and eat the ice cream while you go to work for 3-5 hours. You hand them a spoon and then leave them to it. What do you think your kids will do with all that ice cream? They will eat it all.
Students often don’t know when to stop until they are sick or until their parents tell them to stop. It’s okay for students to have a little bit of ice cream, but not the whole gallon. The same goes with smartphones and social media. We give smartphones to kids without much instruction on how to use them safely – and that puts them at risk.
It’s important to set guidelines. Our Smartphone and Social Media Agreement course will help you see what kinds of rules you should set for your student. Their actions reflect on the whole family, not just themselves. They need to know the consequences of not following your rules. It’s okay to take their phone away, even if – like this mom – you didn’t pay for your student’s phone. While they live under your roof, they follow your rules.
It’s Okay to Check Their Phones
If your student doesn’t want you to “invade their privacy,” that could mean there’s probably something on their phone that you really should see.
Share the pass codes for your phone with your students and have them share their pass codes with you. Set a good example by being open with your information so that they know it’s okay to share theirs. The more willing you are to follow the guidelines you set, the more willing your students will be as well.
Time Restrictions are Important
Josh recommends that students spend less than an hour at night on their phones. They shouldn’t use their phones while doing homework. Too much social media time can be detrimental. It can get addicting, affect mental health, and take time away from the outside world. Although your student might initially feel upset about these restrictions, the longer the restriction is in place, the more your students will understand. They may even thank you for it.
Our Smartphone and Social Media Agreement course will help you set guidelines for weekdays and weekends, both day and night. Josh will walk you and your students through your own copy of our smartphone and social media agreement.
Create Social Media Guidelines Together
Whether you put together a social media agreement or set guidelines, talk with your students about them before you implement them. You can also watch our courses with your students to help them understand what addiction looks like and what being on social media so much does to your mental health. If you need help voicing your concerns about your student’s safety, consider turning to a therapist. Josh and the Smart Social team are big advocates of therapists who can help you grow your communication skills and maintain a healthy relationship with your kids.
Some kids are looking for their parents to take the stress of phone addiction away, but they don’t know how to ask for it. Just remember to be gentle. Don’t create smartphone and social media rules in a state of anger. Explain the plan and then implement it later.
We have many courses you can watch together with your students to talk about social media guidelines. Watch them by yourself first, then bring your students in:
- TikTok App Parent Guide
- Snapchat App Parent Guide
- Instagram App Parent Guide
- Byte App Parent Guide
- Dangers Every Parent Should Know Before Giving Their Student an iPhone
- How to Set Up Parent Controls on an iPhone
- Smartphone and Social Media Agreement
Don’t keep your fears internalized. There are real reasons why you are concerned about your student’s smartphone and social media activity. Consider replacing the time your student’s spend on a smartphone with real life activities. Have dinner together as a family. Invite their significant other over for a movie night. Play boardgames or solve puzzles. Help them remember that there is so much out there in the world for them to discover. Then teach them how to be responsible for how they choose to spend their time online.