Tips for Parenting Your Daughter During The Social Media Age

Childhood looks very different today than it did even ten years ago. The omnipresence of smart devices and the massive presence and influence of social media means that your kids have access to more information– and that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what they are exposed to. Social media can be great for sharing information, but it also comes with a slew of downsides. Social media has a massive impact on kids’ self-esteem, especially girls.

It’s hard enough raising kids, and girls face a lot of extra pressure from social media. Today, we’re going to talk about what social media does to girls and how you, as a loving parent, can help your daughter through difficult times.

What Does Social Media Tell Girls?

Girls, in particular, may face societal pressures related to body image, appearance, and comparison with others on social media. There may be a higher prevalence of unrealistic beauty standards and expectations for girls, which can contribute to self-esteem issues. A survey conducted by Common Sense Media found that girls are particularly vulnerable in the following ways:

  • 35% are concerned about being tagged in unattractive pictures.
  • 27% feel stressed about how they look in posted photos.
  • 22% felt terrible when an image of themselves is ignored.

While many parents may feel an impulse to simply ban the use of social media, complete abstinence isn’t always helpful for kids. Social media is how they connect with their friends, people who have similar interests, and the world around them. Social media is an important place for kids to get information, and the complete lack of a social media presence can lead to ostracization. Parents need to find the right balance for their kids’ social media use, and they need to engage in active conversations with their kids around social media.

So, with that in mind, how can we help our girls navigate the challenging landscape of social media?

Open Communication

One of the most important things you can do for your daughter is make sure that she knows she can always talk to you. You need to make sure that your girl knows she can turn to you for guidance and support if she encounters any challenges online. Foster a trusting relationship with your child where she feels comfortable discussing her online experiences. Encourage her to share her thoughts, feelings, and concerns about social media without fear of punishment. If your daughter feels that she’ll be punished for her online activities, she won’t feel safe talking to you when she feels stressed about social media. Be understanding and empathetic about the pressures she may face in the digital world– even if you don’t necessarily understand them.

Digital Literacy

Teach your children about online privacy, the consequences of sharing personal information, and the importance of strong, unique passwords. This is vital for every kid! Help them develop critical thinking skills to evaluate information and media they encounter online. It’s very important to teach them to critically evaluate online information, discern credible sources, and understand the consequences of sharing personal details. Regularly revisit and reinforce these lessons to adapt to evolving technology and potential challenges.

Set Clear Boundaries And A Good Example

Young children learn by example, and older kids are quick to point out hypocrisy whenever they see it. This means that you need to demonstrate responsible, positive online behavior yourself. Model healthy social media habits, and show your daughter mindful use of technology. Establish clear rules and guidelines regarding screen time, appropriate content, and online behavior. It’s also important to remember that online activities can have real-world consequences; kids have faced scholastic punishments for cyberbullying and other negative online behaviors. Discuss the potential risks and consequences of engaging in certain online activities.

Monitor Online Activity Appropriately

Keep an eye on your child’s online presence and friend/follower lists. It’s also important to stay updated on the latest social media platforms, trends, and potential risks. Regularly check the privacy settings on your child’s accounts to ensure they are configured appropriately. You can use parental controls and privacy settings to restrict access to inappropriate content, but be careful about this. There is a balance between appropriate surveillance and an inappropriate invasion of privacy. For younger girls, this maybe means having their passcodes and checking their activity. Older girls value their privacy, so give them a little more freedom. Teens are extremely good at getting around parental restrictions, and if you’re constantly monitoring them, they will find ways to hide their activity. This can lead to bigger problems, so build up a relationship of trust with your teen about her online activities.

Educate About Cyberbullying

Girls are three times as likely as boys to experience cyberbullying, so it’s important to teach your daughter about the importance of kindness and respect online. Discuss what cyberbullying is, how to recognize it, and what steps to take if they witness or experience it. Also, nobody wants to think of their child as a bully– but if you see troublesome comments or DMs in your kid’s internet history, or you hear them say troubling things about what they’ve been doing online, you should intervene. This may entail uncomfortable conversations, but it’s worth it to prevent the emotional damage of cyberbullying.

Encourage Personal Growth

The lines between the “real” world and the online world have become blurred– but you should still encourage your daughter to spend time away from her phone or computer. Balance screen time with offline activities, hobbies, and face-to-face interactions. You want to help her foster a well-rounded lifestyle that includes physical activity, reading, and other interests. One way to do this is to establish tech-free zones; this means designating certain areas or times in your home where technology is not allowed. This encourages other activities, as well as communication as a family. You should also help build your daughter’s self-esteem. Let her know the importance of self-worth beyond social media likes or comments. Helping your child develop a strong sense of identity and self-esteem that isn’t solely tied to online validation will make her more resilient to the challenges of social media.

Navigating parenthood in the internet age is an exploration into a whole new world, with new risks, challenges, and pitfalls. The good news is that today’s kids are more aware of their own mental health than ever before, and that’s an avenue you can use for open communication about the challenges of social media. If you need help talking to your child about social media, or are looking for help for a child who’s already having social media challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out to the therapists at Love Heal Grow. We’re here to help!


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