In an age when technology is so prevalent, teens are increasingly spending more time online and participating in social media. According to Common Sense Media, 73 percent of kids 12 to 17 have a social networking profile and many of those teens use Facebook. According to Facebook, there were more than 500 million registered users as of 2010. The question is, how much time is too much time for teens on Facebook?
While you might not think your teen is spending too much time online, through Facebook and other social media sites, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that kids are spending an average of 7 hours per day using media, including television, phones and computers. To ensure your teen is not overdoing it on Facebook and online, you should set time limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours per day for all media. This includes time spent watching television, playing computer or video games, texting and surfing the web.
Of course you want your teen to be safe when using social media, like Facebook, so it's important that you talk to him about online safety. Tell him how to set the privacy settings on his account to ensure only his friends can get access to his personal information. Explain how important it is to use good judgment before posting anything online. If he wouldn't say or do something in person, he shouldn't say or do it online. Tell him to never post his location, for safety and privacy reasons.
Stay involved in your teen's social media usage and monitor her accounts. You don't have to snoop around. Be honest with her and explain that when she sets up her Facebook account, you will have full access to make sure she's safe. Create your own Facebook page, if you don't already have one, so you can be Facebook friends with your teen. That doesn't mean you have to flood her Facebook page with your comments or become friends with all of her friends. It's just a way for you to keep tabs on what is happening on her Facebook.
Be aware that there are some dangers associated with teens participating in social media, including Facebook. Online predators are often on the lookout for information about teenagers online, through their social media profiles. Talk to your teen about being vigilant when online, never giving out personal information and never talking to people he doesn't know. Posting inappropriate photos is another danger, whether it's your teen posting them or his friends posting pictures of him in compromising situations. Explain to him that once something is put online, it's there forever. Teens can also become addicted to social media. This is why it's so important to create and enforce strict time limits for Facebook.
- Facebook: Help Your Teens Play it Safe
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Media and Children
- NYU Child Together Study Center: Anti-Social Networking: How Do Texting and Social Media Affect Our Children?
- KidsHealth: How TV Affects Your Child
- KidsHealth: Healthy Habits for TV, Video Games and the Internet
- Common Sense Media: Setting Computer Limits Tips
- PEW/Internet: Teens and Social Media
- Common Sense Media: Facebook for Parents
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