Talking, Texting, but No TikTok: How to Set Boundaries for Your Kid’s Phone Use

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

It’s no secret social media can be a dangerous place. While it can keep you connected to your friends and family, social media can wreak havoc on your mental health. This is especially true for children who often don’t know any better than to believe everything they see and hear online. 

As a parent, it’s important you keep your kids safe from the dangers of social media. From choosing a secure phone to monitoring screen time, here are a few tech boundaries you can set for your kids: 

1. Lead by Example 

Children learn by watching, so make sure you set a good example when it comes to your social media use. If you don’t want your kids spending all day staring at their screen, make sure you aren’t, either. You can model this behavior by working together to set screen time limits and hold each other accountable. Download a screen time app or set up a time each week to compare screen time use. 

Another way to set an example for your child is to model social media sharing. If you don’t want your kids posting intimate details, make sure you don’t. Talk about what is safe to share and what isn’t. Ensure your children have a good relationship with social media by making sure you have a good relationship with it. If you don’t, take time to set boundaries for yourself first. 

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2. Choose a Safe Phone 

Kid tech has become increasingly popular in recent years with the launch of several devices designed to keep kids safe. From kid-inspired tablets and smartwatches to phones, you can find safe tech to keep your child connected to you without internet access. 

Gabb Wireless, for example, offers a safe phone for kids called a Gabb Phone. While this phone lets kids text and call, there’s no access to the internet, no social media, and no games. Parents don’t have to worry about kids gaining access to inappropriate content. Children don’t have to fall victim to the negative impact social media can have. This is one way to introduce your child to tech in a safe way. Over time, they will learn how to be responsible with their device. When the time does come for a traditional smartphone, they will be well equipped to handle the responsibility. 

3. Be Strict on Social Media 

Social media can be a great way to connect and stay up-to-date with friends and family. But it can also be an incredibly dangerous place. According to 2021 research, social media isn’t just impacting the mental health of our youth. It’s also impacting their development. This is due to a lack of sleep, less interest in physical activity, and spending less time connecting in real life. 

As a parent, it’s crucial you set strict boundaries when it comes to your children’s social media usage. For instance, some parents don’t allow their kids on social media at all. Other parents allow their child on only one platform based on which one they think is safer. You could also take the approach of letting your kids have social media accounts. Make it clear you’ll be checking their content regularly. 

4. Create Tech-Free Zones

It’s no secret screens can take up a lot of someone’s time. And we’re not just talking about phones. Computer screens, tablets, and even smartwatches can be a real time suck. Unfortunately, in today’s digital world, screens are a must considering almost every job deals with a computer. Even schoolwork is done online. 

Try as you might, your kids are going to have to use technology during the day. You can mitigate the amount of time they spend by creating tech-free zones for your entire family. For example, your child’s bedroom could be a tech-free zone. The dining table during meals could be a tech-free zone, as well as the car during the morning drive to school. Make sure you are clear with your family on where they are and be consistent with communicating that expectation.

5. Monitor Screen Time 

Children between the ages of 8 and 12 spend about six hours a day looking at screens, according to research. This explains why tech addiction is so common. It is only becoming more common as social media plays a bigger and bigger role in our lives. 

To ensure your kids don’t have an unhealthy relationship with technology, make sure they aren’t spending too much time on screens. One way to do that is by creating boundaries for your children’s screen usage. For example, set a rule that your children can only use their phones for three hours a day. Then, keep track of their hours by downloading an app or using one of the features built-in to the phone. 

For example, Digital Wellbeing is a built-in screen limit tracker on Android devices. It will show you how much time your child is spending looking at screens. It will also show which social media apps are taking up a majority of the time. Apple users can have a similar experience with IOS Screen Time. Seeing where your kids are spending most of their screen time helps you set boundaries for your children. 

6. Make Tech a Privilege

One of the best ways to set boundaries for your kid’s social media use is to change their outlook on technology. Most of us view technology as a necessity. It’s something we need in order to exist. The same goes for social media. Your child might be under the impression that apps like Instagram are something they need. 

While technology definitely plays an important role, it’s a privilege to have these devices. Instead of just handing your child a device whenever they ask, make them work for it. For example, consider waiting until your child passes their math test before letting them play video games. If your child’s grades are slipping, take away their social media privileges until they get their grade up. By making tech feel like a privilege, your kids won’t grow up too reliant on their devices. 

Social media plays a huge role in most of our lives, but we shouldn’t let it consume us. What we see online is filtered and superficial — it’s not real. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries for your child’s social media usage now so they don’t grow up with a distorted view of the world. 

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