How to Set Social Media Boundaries for Kids and Teens

A young boy with glasses focused on using a laptop at a desk, with a mug and smartphone nearby, using the social media boundaries for kids his parents established from the tips in this blog post by

Social media is something nearly everyone uses. As a matter of fact, logging into a social media account is the most common online activity. 

Over 80% of Americans use one or more social media platforms. 

The average age for a child to acquire a smartphone is ten, while many children have access to their parents’ phones, tablets, or other devices as early as three years old. 

Most people over thirty-five grew up without social media. Our teenage mistakes didn’t live on forever in our Facebook memories.

It’s hard enough to manage our self-esteem and mental health in a digital age as adults, but for our youngest generation, things could be even more difficult.  

Establishing clear social media boundaries for kids is becoming increasingly crucial in today’s connected world.


Why Manage Your Child’s Social Media Habits? 

Social media has the potential to harm. Their minds are still developing, and they may be unable to handle all the issues that can arise on a social network. 

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Here are more reasons to manage your child’s social media habits: 

  • Someone can screenshot your child’s posts and circulate them even if you delete their content or erase their account. 
  • Many children have social media accounts their parents are unaware of. 
  • Children often hide the fact they are being bullied or targeted.
  • Most parents are shocked to discover their child has bullied others online.
  • Children don’t truly understand the long-term ramifications of issues like bullying online.
  • Your child may be getting groomed or catfished by a predator.
  • Your child may have unlocked content that is too graphic or disturbing for their level of maturity. 
  • Many universities and employers check past social media history to verify suitability for admission or employment.
  • And more!

Boundaries are essential when it comes to kids and social media. Parents must lead the way and set the guidelines and expectations for how their children will and will not use social media. 

It’s also vital to recognize that some parents can’t or won’t monitor their children. Your child might encounter other kids who don’t have social media boundaries. 

Ultimately, you may be unable to predict or protect your child from every pitfall online, but you can do what you can with what you have. 

Social Media Lacks Key Components of Communication 

Social media is an artificial form of social engagement. Tapping out a conversation on a keyboard isn’t a replacement for in-person interaction. Learning to communicate with someone effectively requires other skills that don’t translate online. 

Here are some of the ways social media can stunt a child’s development- 

– Kids Reveal Too Much, Too Quickly 

Building relationships in person takes time. Most people engaging one-on-one don’t reveal their deepest secrets or share too much personal information until they get to know someone. 

Online, it tends to be a different story. Something about being on social media makes people open up earlier and easier than is wise, especially kids. 

– Failure to Understand Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal communication makes up the majority of a conversation. Reading another person’s face and body language is valuable to communication. 

Social media is void of non-verbal communication, stunting a child’s interpersonal communication skills.  

– Conflict Resolution Skills Aren’t Developed 

Social media makes it easier to say whatever comes to mind. This can lead kids to say cruel things when they feel slighted rather than work things out. 

Seeing someone in person can help filter what we say. Learning to disagree or resolve conflict is vital at all stages of life. Social media can deprive kids of necessary conflict resolution skills.  

Growing up with social media as a mainstream activity can’t help but affect how our newest generation develops their social skills. 

Being online seems as familiar to our kids as any other aspect of childhood. It’s important to ensure they develop the same social skills as previous generations without social media. 

You can do your part by ensuring kids have offline activities that require them to meet and greet people face-to-face. Encourage your child to invite other kids for activities rather than chat or connect on social media. 

What’s Your Digital Footprint?

A digital footprint is the remains of your unique online activity. Years later, you might still find traces of your online presence, even after you’ve grown up or moved on.

Your digital footprint may or may not accurately represent who you are today. But it can directly impact employment or school admissions, groups, or affiliations. 

We all make mistakes, and sadly, some of those mistakes will live in digital eternity with the possibility of popping up at the worst possible time. 

It’s important to regulate whatever you can that goes online for yourself and your family. 

Be self-aware, open, and honest with your children, who may not yet have the maturity to understand the ramifications of what they post online. 

Protecting Your Child’s Digital Footprint 

Not having social media as a kid is likely one of the best things that happened to anyone over fifty. 

There’s no digital record of them making poor decisions, including images, videos, posts, and comments. 

This isn’t the case for the next generation. Their poor choices, bad decisions, compromising situations, and immaturity could haunt them for years. 

Kids need to be protected, guided, and educated about social media and how important it is to protect themselves for their future. Without a proper understanding of the permanence of their activities online, they may end up paying a devastating price that could sabotage them. 


What Age Should Your Child Be Allowed a Social Media Account? 

Having social media accounts may seem like a lighthearted thing that ‘all the kids are doing.’ Kids themselves might tell you that preventing their access to social media could hurt them and keep them from being popular. 

Each parent must weigh the benefits and the disadvantages before allowing their child online. Ultimately, it’s the parent’s responsibility to protect their child from a future they may not have the maturity to foresee. 

This will be different for each child and personal to each family. You, as a parent, need to make that decision. 

Before Your Child Starts a Social Media Account, Consider- 

  • Your child’s maturity level
  • How their behavior could affect them
  • Your willingness to watch over them

– Is Your Child Mature Enough for Social Media? 

Kids often don’t have the maturity necessary to keep themselves safe. Part of childhood is going through developmental phases that prepare them for adulthood. 

These phases include underdeveloped social skills, impulse control, and more. In childhood, kids might make silly or risky decisions that could be permanently saved online. 

Helping them regulate themselves is hard enough without having to manage their public persona online. 

– Could Your Child’s Behavior Harm Them? 

If you poll most parents, they believe their children are harmless and know right from wrong. That’s because kids are smart and often mask some of their behavior. 

This includes lying about aggressive behavior and hiding anxiety, depression, and more. Even kids with close family ties try to break free and develop their own identities. 

It’s a natural part of growing up. 

Since you can’t be absolutely sure of your child’s behavior 24 hours a day, it’s important to ask yourself if how they behave online could impact their future. 

Reckless behavior online could prevent good kids from getting admitted to college or hired for a job. 

– How willing are you to be a detective? 

Sure, your child may allow you to be their friend on Facebook. But what about the apps you don’t know about? Could your child be on a platform like OnlyFans? 

It’s important to be willing to stay current on what social media platforms your child uses and what they could be hiding. Stay informed, ready, willing, and able to monitor their online habits to keep them safe.  

As you let your children grow, you’ll have to navigate many scary things, including their first sleepover, going to school, driving a car, and more. 

Deciding to use social media is a big decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. Be sure to consider everything before allowing your child to go online. 


Online Safety 

Did you know there are whole divisions of the police force designed to look for and manage online predators? 

This includes tracking and arresting online predators ranging from pedophiles to human traffickers. Though it’s a scary subject, it’s important to be aware of this.  

Online predators are targeting kids. They are actively looking for vulnerable kids to take advantage of. 

The things that make your child innocent and kind are the very things that could get them into a bad situation. As parents, you’ve got to take situations into your own hands to help prevent your kids from being victimized. 

Parents Play the Primary Role Preventing Online Predators

As a parent, you play the most important role in protecting your child from online dangers. Your willingness to teach your child about the risks and dangers will impact their safety. 

Parents have a significant influence on their children. Facing the problem of online predators head-on can help your child avoid trouble. Here are some essential tips to keep them safe. 

– Talk About the Dangers Openly: 

The conversation about online predators needs to happen- a lot. It’s not a one-and-done situation. 

Frequently revisit the conversation, making it commonplace to discuss the dangers online. The more you educate and normalize the conversation, the better off your child will be. 

 – Don’t Water Down the Conversation: 

There are some really dangerous things out there in the real world. Failing to discuss them could be a disservice to your child. 

Speak boldly about the dangers online so your child doesn’t minimize the potential harm they could be under. Just like you would warn them not to get in a car with a stranger, they need to know not to interact with strangers online, either. 

Remember, online predators are savvy. They fool kids all the time into doing dangerous and regrettable things. 

You’ve got to be willing to take things seriously and give them proper emphasis. 

– Help Kids Determine What’s Healthy and What’s Not: 

Your child needs to know what risky behavior looks like. While accepting strangers’ friend requests is no big deal for some kids, they draw the line at meeting someone in person. 

Neither is ok.

Your kids need to know what’s safe to do online and what’s not. Be specific so there’s no room for doubt. Impulse control isn’t developed until adulthood, making risky behavior easier when the consequences aren’t fully understood.  

 Online predators are savvy. 

They know who to look for and what to do and say to get what they want. Be your child’s best defense against being a victim. 

Please educate yourself about how to help your kids and commit to being their shield whenever they go online. 

Rules to Keep Kids Safe Online

One of the easiest ways to keep kids safe online is to set up rules before they open an account. 

Setting your kids’ rules on social media is easier before they go online than trying to establish rules down the line. 

Making your rules about social media contingent on them having it in the first place is a smart move. 

Here are some practical rules to put into place to protect your kids online-

– Rule #1: No Access- No Account- 

Set the expectation that you can access their social media accounts anytime, anywhere. Kids may push limits, claiming a breach of privacy, but your access to their accounts can help them stay safer online. 

– Rule #2: No Social Media on the Phone- 

Smartphones can do almost anything, including downloading and deleting social media apps. However, most social media platforms are also available on a desktop or laptop. 

Requiring social media on a computer can help reduce your child’s time online and make it less likely that they will delete their activity before you see it.   

– Rule #3: We Have to be Friends- 

They say it’s important for your kids not to see you as their friend. That’s different when it comes to social media. Require your child to add you as a friend to their account so you can see their posts.  

– Rule #4: Parents Have Tracking Privileges- 

Apps like KiddLogger allow parents to view what social media sites their children visit, how long they stay, and what images they upload. 

Use this or another tracker so your kids know you can see their activity anytime. This will help deter them from making choices they might otherwise make. 

– Rule #5:Parents Will Review Search History-

Letting your kids know you will review their search history is another safety net that can protect them. 

Be sure your child knows there are consequences for erasing history or trying to hide where they’ve been online. 

– Rule #6: Parents Control the Settings- 

All social media apps have settings that can be changed to keep people safer online. 

Learn what settings need to be changed in the background of your kid’s social media platform and continually review them to ensure they stay that way. 

– Rule #7: Social Media is a Privilege, Not a Right- 

Kids think they have a right to have a social media account. Let them know you have the final say on when they start social media and whether or not they may keep it. 

Let them know you can and will shut down their accounts if they are not adhering to your limits. 

Kids thrive with rules. 

Healthy parenting is important even when they say they are bothered by being parented. Healthy social media boundaries for kids and teens can save reputations, relationships, and possibly lives. 

Be diligent about your kids’ social media use. You’ll help them make safer and better decisions.  


Healthy Social Media Starts with YOU

Whether we like it or not, our kids watch what we do, and it influences them. 

Your online behavior is an example to your kids. As your kids grow older, they’re more likely to see and be influenced by what you post online.

How we engage with social media impacts our children. If we prioritize social media, our kids will do the same. 

While our kids don’t always generate interest in everything we enjoy, the lure of social media tends to be universal. 

If you’re a frequent scroller on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, you can bet your kids will want in on the action.

Additionally, they’ll listen when you mention what you see online. It’s important to ensure that what you value about social media is healthy. 

If you love the drama and being controversial, you’re sending that message to your kids. 

Here are some ways you can be a healthy example online-


– Be Kind and Encouraging 

If your kids see your content, comments, and images, ensure they reflect a positive attitude. Posting sarcasm, calling people out, or shaming people online isn’t a healthy influence on your kids. 

Use social media to lift people up, and your kids will follow.


– Teach, Don’t Preach 

If you love sharing or creating content that educates, make sure to keep it positive. Teaching something is different than preaching. 

Keep your content informative and touch on subjects that aren’t polarizing or controversial to avoid drama.


– Stay Present With the Family- 

Escaping to social media is a habit at any age. After a hard day’s work, escaping and scrolling social media can feel good. 

Be sure you don’t overdo it. Keep your time online to a minimum and avoid it when you are with your family. 

Dinnertime should be device-free, and it’s good to put devices down an hour or two before bedtime to promote better sleep.


– Curb Your Influencer Behavior

If you love using social media to showcase your life, be sure you’re not infringing on your family and making the wrong impression. 

Don’t interrupt a good time by asking kids to pose for pictures. Avoid sending the wrong message by posting pictures that don’t reflect your life. 

Highly edited and filtered photos, taking chronic selfies, and manipulating kids into unnatural poses are all signs of taking social media to the extreme. 

 Remember, you are the most significant influence on your kids’ use of social media. Be sure it’s healthy. It will help you when you need to set limits with your kids to keep them safe.


Closing the Skills Gap

Kids’ technological capabilities can baffle the mind compared to our learning curve. It seems kids today are born knowing how to scroll and Google anything. 

Keeping up with technological changes can be difficult, but preventing the gap between your and your children’s skill sets from developing is important. 

When parents don’t use technology, it’s much easier for their kids to outsmart and outwit them. While not every kid is sneaky and trying to get one over on their parents, it helps to know how to navigate tech to stay on top of online networks. 

Be sure to keep yourself educated so you stay caught up. Here are some ways to do that. 

– Upgrading Your Equipment 

Don’t hang on to your smartphone or computer when they become obsolete. Upgrading ensures you’ll learn the latest technology right along with your child. 

While you don’t have to make changes with each new upgrade, be sure not to allow too much change in tech before you upgrade. 

– Download Recommended Updates 

Be sure you follow the prompts to update your apps, software, etc. Allowing your systems to lapse can contribute to them being clunky or outdated. Stay on top of the recommendations.

– What You Don’t Know Someone Else Always Does

Let’s say you simply can’t keep up with the latest and greatest in social media or technology. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep your kids safe. 

There is always someone who knows the latest information. Find a trusted friend or a service that can do the work for you. Some of the ways they can help include-

– Updating things for you 

Whether it’s tech support for your smartphone service, your local computer help desk, or the tech-savvy neighbor, there are always resources to keep you up-to-date and protected. 

Make relationships with supportive people who can help you keep the skills gap closed. 

– Use an app for that 

Some apps make it simple to monitor your kid’s online activity. Installing them can help you quickly access information you may not know how to get. You can be one click away from knowing all you need to keep your kids safer. 

Our kids learn tech at lightning speed. It’s essential to keep up as best as possible or find clever ways to minimize the difference between your skill sets and theirs. 

Stay sharp regarding social media and tech to keep your kids safe. 

Keep them Busy

Remember latchkey kids? This refers to a generation of kids with working parents who came home to empty houses after work. 

It isn’t always possible to be everywhere your child is, but idle children can get into trouble. 

For those times, let them go to their supervised friend’s house, a neighbor’s, or an afterschool activity. 

Kids use social media when they have nothing better to do. Keep your kids busy with activities so they have less time to be online.  


Dinnertime is a Great Time to Connect

Kids who feel their parents can’t or won’t relate to what they are experiencing tend to hide their feelings or what they are going through. 

This puts them at greater risk of being victimized. Open communication reduces the risk.

Dinnertime is an excellent time for families to hash out life’s issues, including social media. There are many ways to use dinnertime with your family to confront or prevent problems associated with social media. Try these-

– Pick a topic- 

Make topics commonplace during dinnertime. If there is a concern or issue about social media, strategically make this the topic. 

Address the topic without blame or accusation. Making talking about social media use safe and comfortable will normalize problem-solving and deeper conversations about important issues. 

– Review social media before dinner- 

Review your child’s social media and choose something positive to share at the table. Letting your child know you are reviewing their social media and like what you see alerts them that you are paying attention and will remind them when they are posting content. 

– Ask questions 

Get curious and ask questions about their social media experience. Ask them if they’ve seen anyone bullying or being bullied online.

Ask them what inspirational content they’ve seen recently and what’s been cringe-worthy. Get them talking about what they like and dislike about social media. 

That way, you can control the narrative about social media in your home.  

– Find teaching moments 

You can share an experience you’ve had online or something you’ve seen online as a teaching moment for your family. 

Share a lesson learned or a regret. Share something you saw that inspired you or made you laugh. 

It can be helpful to use examples outside of your home to help teach lessons rather than wait for your child to make a misstep and have to address it. 

This can keep things light but also valuable at the dinner table. 

Family time is a great time to prevent social media mishaps and teach kids about its benefits and disadvantages. 

Use your dinner time as a strategic way to help and support your kids. 


Additional Resources for Parents

What social media boundaries have you set in your house? Drop them in the comments below. 

Here are additional resources you may find helpful as parents: 


Do you have a child that needs one on one assistance?  

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A young boy with glasses focused on using a laptop at a desk, with a mug and smartphone nearby, using the social media boundaries for kids his parents established from the tips in this blog post by
Is your child ready for social media? Here’s what you need to know to set social media boundaries for kids to ensure a positive experience.

Shannah Holt

Shannah Holt

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