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7 tips for healthy social media use


October 4, 2023 Peer Relationship


Par Frédérique Rochefort


In recent years, the number and popularity of different types of applications have exploded. Social media has become an omnipresent part of teenagers' lives. Among all this variety and new trends, some parents may find it hard to get their bearings. Yet it's essential to understand the realities and challenges associated with the online world.

9 out of 10 young people use social networks on a daily basis to keep in touch with friends and for entertainment.

How young people use social networks 

Teenagers use social networks primarily to keep in touch with their friends. To do this, they use Snapchat and Instagram on a daily basis. Facebook is a social network that is losing popularity among young people and is being abandoned by many. 

They also use social networks as a source of entertainment. Teens consume content on social media as a kind of television: TikTok, Youtube, Netflix... Finally, social media is a way for them to express themselves: sharing photos and videos of what they're doing, sharing their achievements...

The effects of using social networks

Social networks have a number of positive effects. They facilitate contact with others, offer platforms where young people can share their thoughts anonymously (Tel-Jeunes), and enable them to learn new things and discover new interests.

Excessive use of social networks can have negative psychological effects, such as low self-esteem and anxiety symptoms due to comparison with others. To prevent these effects, we recommend moderating the amount of time spent in front of the screen.

Another possible consequence, less discussed with teenagers, is the risk of online scams. Sharing too much information or failing to recognize dubious situations can lead to adverse consequences.

7 tips to support your teen's healthy use of social media

There are a number of strategies you can use to help your teen avoid unpleasant situations.  Unfortunately, this is not a subject that is discussed at school. 

As a parent, you have an essential role to play in helping your child make the right choices on social media.

1.    Banning the use of social media is not a realistic solution.

Your teenager depends on social networks to express themselves and socialize outside school hours. A much better solution is to provide guidance and raise awareness, so that your teenager can safely enjoy the positive effects that social networks can offer.

2.    Remain open and available to guide them in their media use.

It's important that they feel you're there for them. Adolescence is a crucial period in development. Young people need to experience many things, both successes and failures, and know that they are supported in their learning journey by their parents.

3.    Familiarize yourself with the social media your child uses. 

This will help you better understand the virtual world in which they operate. Understanding the different functions of an application can help you to have discussions with your young people about the settings they can use to better protect themselves.

4.    Encourage your child to think carefully before publishing online.

Once a photo is published, they no longer have control over who can see it, share it, or keep it by taking a screenshot. It's important that they exercise good judgment in what they share publicly.

5.    Make your teen aware of the risks and impact of data or identity theft!

The less personal information your teenager shares online, the better! Fraudulent sites can be hard to recognize. While it may be tempting for them to enter their details to access prizes or websites, you need to be on the lookout. Enticing offers are often too good to be true.

6.    Suggest that your teenager post only after leaving the scene, or remove the geolocation.

Most social networks offer the option of publicly sharing where you are and what you're doing. Many young people use this feature to share what they're doing in real time, without considering the repercussions this could have. 

7.    Stay alert to romance scams!  

Young people can be approached on social networks by ill-intentioned individuals. They use a variety of techniques to get young people to like them, and then ask for intimate photos or money. It's essential to raise awareness with your children. Encourage them to recognize certain signs: a person who focuses their interactions solely on compliments, or who always has excuses for not meeting them in real life. 

To find out about recommended screen time for teenagers, please consult the article: Social Networks and Screen Time: Tips for Parents.  Réseaux sociaux et temps d’écran : conseils aux parents.