For children and parents alike, social media is a pervasive part of everyday life. Teenagers spend around nine hours a day online. Even children aged eight to 12 are online for about six hours a day.
For co-parents, navigating social media can be challenging. Understanding what to do (and what not to do) regarding social media enables co-parents and children to lead happier, healthier lives online and off.
Social Media: The Good
It's easy to get caught up in seeing social media as a purely negative phenomenon, but that's not necessarily true. Social media also has several positive aspects, such as:
- Making it easier to stay in touch. Social media messaging applications make it easy to communicate, even when texting isn't an option. Many social media platforms also have video-chat options now, which can be a great way for parents to see their children.
- Enabling parents to stay up-to-date with their child's achievements. Photos and videos allow parents to see what their children are doing and be a part of their lives even when they don't have custody.
- Allowing parents to spend time together. Other forms of media, such as video games, allow parents to spend meaningful time with their children even when they can't see them in person.
Social Media: The Bad
Of course, social media also has negative aspects:
- Social media is linked to depression. Many children compare themselves to peers and celebrities or other well-known figures on social media, which can lead to low self-esteem.
- Social media can lead to isolation. If children choose to spend time online instead of with friends, family and loved ones in person, they may feel isolated.
- Social media can be a bad influence. Even with protections like parental locks, social media can expose children to inappropriate material.
- Social media makes bullying easier. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is a problem children often have to deal with on social media platforms.
How to Handle Social Media as a Co-Parent
You can do several things to make social media a healthy, constructive part of your child's life:
- Make sure you and your partner have the same boundaries. You should avoid a "good cop, bad cop" dynamic at all costs. Ensure you both utilize the same restrictions (such as parental locks) for social media, and apply the same disciplinary tactics (like limiting access to social media) if your child violates the rules.
- Research as much as you can about social media. The more you know, the easier it will be to help your child see where you're coming from with certain boundaries or restrictions.
- Avoid being overbearing. Being unnecessarily restrictive with what your child can or can't do on social media will make them withdraw and trust you less, encouraging them to hide mistakes. Instead, focus on making mistakes a positive learning experience.
- Ask your child about appropriate restrictions. Making social media management a compromise between you and your child shows mutual respect between both parties and can be a bonding experience.
If you're having trouble with your child custody arrangement, we can help. At the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, PLLC, we have experienced child custody lawyers ready to help you navigate your case more easily.
To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact us online or via phone at (817) 497-8148.