February 13, 2023

Social Media Use – Finding the Balance With the 4C’s

Parenting has never been easy. However, the use of technology in every aspect of our lives, and our reliance on social media, has really made parenting that much more challenging.

It’s one of the biggest concerns for parents today. How do we keep our children balanced and healthy with all the pressures of the online world? 

Communication is an essential component in parenting today’s kids. Our children no longer just take our word for things.

They are exposed to so much information from such an early age (information that is often way beyond the emotional and cognitive development of their brains) that simply telling them not to do something isn’t going to work. Having frequent, open conversations, and using curious, non-judgemental language will help to keep communication flowing. 

Setting clear and negotiated boundaries is also essential for your child to stay healthy and balanced. It’s easy to get caught up in the “but all my friends are allowed to” arguments. Let your child know that you love them and care about their health and wellbeing; because of that, the boundaries in your house will reflect your values.

I suggest using the 4C’s approach to stay connected with your child and monitor their online exposure. It is also highly recommended to keep our children away from social media until as late as possible.

Remember that it is really challenging to manage social media once they begin accessing it. However, try the following when that time comes to ensure a balanced approach. 

The 4C’s of Social Media Use

Context

It is important to understand how your children use their technology and social media. Awareness of your own use of social media, gaming and focusing on screens instead of the people around you is a powerful way of modelling appropriate behaviour.

Our children take their cues from the adults around them. What they observe us doing becomes their norm. If we constantly check our phones and place ourselves in front of screens, they will assume that this is what they should also do. 

Content

Awareness of and interest in what your children are accessing on social media is essential. Who are their online friends? Are they age-appropriate? What sites are your children visiting, and what content are they viewing on YouTube etc.?

Take some time to sit with them and ask them to show you some YouTube videos they are watching. Arrange a time to play some of their games with them, allowing you to view first-hand the content they are accessing. 

Conversation

Engaging in regular conversations with your children about their use of technology and social media is important in terms of transparency and connection. The more frequently you converse with your children about these topics, the more likely it is that they will come to you when there is an issue or a challenge.

Contract

Sit with your child and create an agreed contract that covers topics such as: 

  • time spent on technology based on age, needs, study requirements, home tasks, hobbies and sporting commitments, time with family and healthy sleep habits. 
  • discuss limits to adults in the family as well to ensure positive role modelling.
  • ensure the contract is clear and agreed upon by all members, explaining clearly why time limits need to be enforced in terms of physical, emotional and cognitive health and wellbeing.

Balancing our children’s emotional, physical, social and wellbeing needs is not easy. Please know that this is one of the most challenging times to be a parent, and you are not alone if this all feels very overwhelming. If you have concerns about your child’s wellbeing online, please contact a mental health professional to support you and your family. 

There are also numerous e-safety sites that families can access to find out further information. I’ll list some of these below for you. 

With Gratitude

Danielle 

Resources 

Child Safe

Raising Children

Online Safety