Take Away the Phone: Restrictive Monitoring of Social Media is Less Effective than Parents Think

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Does restricting screen time help teenagers be wiser social media users? How can parents help promote positive social media use in their homes? BYU Students Ronde Walch and Alyssa Sabey provide answers to these questions in their article “Parental Monitoring of Adolescent Social Media Use and Emotional Regulation” in Family Perspectives, a journal published by BYU’s School of Family Life and written by students. Walch and Sabey conclude the following about teenagers and social media use:

First, it is helpful to know what social media use is considered “normal.” Walch and Sabey cite researchers who found that 30-60 minutes a day is a “moderate” amount of social media use for teenagers. Normal uses of social media for teenagers include socializing with friends, making relationships, creating their own identity, exerting their independence, and exploring their social world. Research also indicates that positive outcomes such as meaningful connections with friends and family and support from groups can be results of proper social media use. However, much research also focuses on the dangers associated with social media use as well, such as cyberbullying, verbal abuse from former partners, and the threat of online predators. Being aware of the positive and negative effects of social media, what can parents do to promote positive outcomes for their teenagers? Is restricting their social media use the answer?

Contrary to popular opinion, Walch and Sabey report that restricting teenagers’ social media use is not the best way to promote positive social media use. Research shows that restricting teenagers’ social media use causes teens to not feel trusted and can also limit their abilities to develop self-regulation skills, which can be related to the development of anxiety, depression, aggression, and internet addiction. So, if restricting teenagers’ social media use adds to these negative outcomes, what can parents do to promote positive social media use?

One of the most effective ways parents can help teenagers be wise social media users is to have conversations with their teenagers about what they encounter on social media so that teenagers themselves can learn to be “critical consumers of media.” Although not directly linked to it, emotional regulation skills can also be fostered in this environment of “active media monitoring” versus restrictive monitoring. Studies have found that when teenagers know how to work through their emotions in a healthy way, they are also better at monitoring their social media use and the amount of time they spend on it. This means that the best thing parents can do to promote positive social media use is to talk to their teens about social media content, which supports the development of self-regulation and enables teens to “navigate their social world, both online and off.”

To read the full article, go to “Parental Monitoring of Adolescent Social Media Use and Emotional Regulation.”

 To check out more articles on family issues, visit https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/familyperspectives/.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s