Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Kristen Galloway, PhD, LP, BCBA
Psychologist • Behavioral Health Clinic

Do you feel overwhelmed when you think about parenting social media? Do you know where to start?  What sites are more kid-friendly or how do you talk to your kid about the dangers of social media? Or what are the dangers of social media? You are not alone. Our goal is help to you navigate the world of social media by having your child earn their social media license. 

First, it is important to identify what your child knows about social media. This will help you assess your child's readiness to use social media as well as identify areas to discuss/teach prior to starting social media. The discussion below is a worthwhile tool that parents can use to start the conversation.

When do you start this discussion? Children are joining online groups and social platforms earlier and earlier these days so we recommend you start this conversation when children begin to have easy access to these platforms. If you child has access to technology that allows for social media use such as a smartphone, tablet, or IPod or you are allowing your child to look at your social media, it is probably helpful to start this conversation. Set aside a time where you can have a distraction free discussion with your child. Let your child know you want to help him or her be successful online and you want to have a discussion about social media. Treat this more like a discussion than a test while taking into account how your child is responding. It might seem like some answers are wrong and others are right, the purpose is to start the conversation and begin an open discussion about social media behavior. The discussion can also serve as a good way to show kids how to weigh the pros and cons of each decision made on social media as well as serve as a baseline on where to start.

The following discussion guide is useful script for assessing your child's readiness for social media:

  1. Tell me what seems fun about social media?  If I allowed you on social media, which sites would you like to join?  Tell me what you like about those sites.
  2. What types of things would you like to post?  Pictures?
  3. Who would you like to be friends with online?  How do you decide if someone should follow you online?
  4. What information can you share online?  What information do we not share online?
  5. What do you do if someone contacts or asks to follow you that you do not know?
  6. How would you respond to someone who made a mean comment to you online?  Especially if he or she is a friend?  What is someone is mean to you friend online?
  7. What problems can posting hurtful, negative or mean things cause?
  8. What are appropriate consequences for following the rules online? Not following the rules?
  9. How do you keep your information private online? 
  10. What are some ways that making your profile and personal information public could be unsafe or dangerous?

Next, test time. Have your child take the attached social media driver's test. Again, there is no right or wrong answers. Allow time to have a discussion regarding your child's responses. Fight the urge to lecture and instead, ask more questions about their responses such as "Tell me more about…" or "How did you decide to respond in that way?"

Remember, like driving, the learning, mistakes and conversations are not over once a license is obtained. We encourage you to continue talking with your kids as issues arise (and they will), frequently monitor their social media use and give consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

*View our comprehensive Family Media Policy.