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Social media has taken over all of our lives in recent years and it feels like there’s no turning back.

Everyone and their mother is on Facebook, millennials feel the need to put everything on Instagram, and TikTok has become a new obsession for Gen Z’ers.

While there are benefits to social media (fosters community, brings strangers together, information is accessible), the downsides are terrifying.

It’s unrealistic to assume your children are never going to have a social media account, so rather than keep them off the apps forever, teach them about how to use them safely.

Here are some tips on how to prevent social media from harming your children’s mental health.

Set an Age Limit

As we mentioned, you can’t keep your children off of Instagram and Twitter forever, but you can set an age limit.

Whether you feel comfortable with them having an Instagram account at age 12 or age 15, let them know this at a young age so they understand your rules.

Explain that you’re not planning on keeping them off of social media forever, but that they need to be a little bit older in order to use the apps responsibly. 

Keep it Private

Once you feel your child is old enough to get a social media account, make sure they are keeping everything private. This will keep them safe from strangers.

Time Limits 

There are apps you can download that will keep you from being on other apps for too long. How ironic is that? 

Use these apps with your children so that they have a set amount of time that they can use Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook. This will prevent them from just aimlessly scrolling throughout the day. 

Get Them Off the Phone

The best and easiest way to keep your children off their phones is to plan activities that they love. 

Whether that’s going to the pool, playing tennis, going to an amusement park, or going shopping, plan activities during your week that will get your children out of the house. 

Have an Open Dialogue

The most important thing is to talk to your children about the dangers of social media. 

Let them know that they can come to you if they’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed by what they’re seeing on Instagram. 

Explain that people are only putting their best lives on social media and that they’re hiding the tough stuff. And, let them know it’s OK to mute or block people who don’t bring them happiness!