Social media

Parents across the country struggle with whether or not they should monitor their child’s social media accounts. 

Questions I often hear from parents are things like: “Is it fair to read through my child’s private accounts?” “Should I say something about what they post?” “How often do I need to check my child’s social media?” 

As a counselor who specializes in teen mental health issues like anxiety and depression, I encourage parents to keep tabs on their child’s phone and social media accounts. 

While I understand there are some privacy issues, for me the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. 

Our children are easily influenced. I worry about predators, online games trying to get them to upgrade and unintentionally spend money and also pornography websites doing everything they can to bait children into seeing things their brains aren’t ready to process. 

Here are four practical things you can do to better monitor your child’s social media:

Friend your kids. One of the biggest things to do when your child creates a new social media account is to “friend” them. You won’t be able to see any private messages, but you will be able to see what they are posting and what their friends are sending to them. 

When you friend your child, it gives you a brief look into the lives they live while they are away from you. 

Link their accounts to yours. Linking accounts means you will have access to the same information as your child. It also provides an easy way to start having hard conversations, if needed. 

There are a lot of free apps that can track things like key-strokes and the minutes your child spends on specific apps, too. They can even shut the phone down if needed. Do a little research and determine what works best for your family. 

Keep lines of communication open. Monitoring your child’s social media is not just about what they posted online, but who is contacting them and what they are saying to – and about - your kid. 

Your child, their friends and even strangers are going to post questionable things online. In these circumstances, don’t brush it under the rug. Have your child tell you what they thought about the post. Ask what they would do differently. Talk about the worst things they have seen online. 

Monitor your child’s history. Take time to look at your child’s web browser and each of their social media accounts.

It doesn’t have to be a nightly check, unless your child has done things on the internet that are dangerous, but make a habit of checking where they have been on the world wide web.

Monitoring your child’s social media use is a daunting task at first, but the peace of mind you will gain is worth the effort. Being an involved parent is not an easy task so give yourself grace and trust your gut.

Michael Klinkner is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and neurolinguistic programming and is part of Evolve Counseling and Behavioral Health Services in Central Phoenix and Gilbert. Information: evolvecounselingaz.com/ or info@evolvecounselingAZ.com.

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