It can be hard being a parent in the age of social media. Every time you turn around, your kid seems glued to their smartphone or computer. It can be especially frustrating if you’re trying to get them engaged in other activities.
Instagram in particular seems to draw people in. If you’re an aspiring artist or photographer, it’s a great way to get your work out there. If you own a business, it’s an effective platform for marketing. If you just want to be popular and socialize with others, it’s perfect for that too.
It can be an enthralling experience whether you’re making new friends, trying to grow your instagram followers, or gathering as many likes as possible (which can be assisted with a tool like ViralRace).
However, limits must be set with these kinds of things. Especially with kids, who haven’t developed time management skills like most adults have.
So here are five ways you can set stricter times for your kids’ Instagram use:
1. Set specific hours that they’re allowed to use Instagram.
Try to figure out these times with your kid. Maybe there’s a certain time that they like to make posts, or interact with their friends on it. From there you can set reasonable limits and time frames in which their Instagram usage is allowed.
Remember to give gentle reminders and warnings when it’s time for them to stop. If you get continually ignored, don’t be afraid to put your foot down. Boundaries are rarely taken seriously if they are not enforced.
Some parents take their kids’ devices away. This can be an effective approach, although it might seem utterly devastating to some kids. That’s why some might refer to it as the “nuclear option.” But if it gets them to listen and take you seriously, then so be it.
Another alternative is to temporarily disable their access to social media. There are apps out there like OurPact and Freedom, where you can manage your kids’ access to apps from your own devices. You can simply restrict their ability to log into Instagram for awhile.
2. Plan out device-free activities to do.
A lot of compulsive social media use comes from being mentally and physically idle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of checking your feed when you’re not busy. So why not find something else for your kid to do?
Talk to them about their interests. Perhaps there’s some hobby that they’re interested in getting into, or something they love that they haven’t done in awhile. You could even use this as a chance to push them towards trying new things, like certain sports or skill-building activities.
Just remember to specify that the activity has to be device-free. Who knows, if they find something to do that makes them happy, your kid might even start to willingly hand over their phone.
3. Encourage them to spend more time with their offline friends and family.
Loneliness could be another factor that’s driving your kids towards spending more time on Instagram. It’s a social network, after all. It’s always bustling with activity and new people to meet.
Online relationships, though fulfilling in their own way, are no substitute for the real thing. Kids especially need social experience as they grow up and start to become adults. It’s an important part of their emotional development.
Try suggesting that they hang out with their friends when you want to get them away from social media. You could even use this as an opportunity to spend time with them yourself. Feel free to get the family involved too. It’s nice to have some time set aside each day to chat and do things together.
For example, many families like to put their phones in the center of the table during dinner. This keeps them out of hand’s reach, reducing the temptation to take them out and mindlessly browse.
4. Reward their cooperation.
Punishment isn’t always the best way to reinforce certain behaviors. Sometimes it can even breed resentment, or make kids purposefully act out. If that happens, then maybe you should consider giving them rewards instead. Incentives might make them more receptive to your constraints.
You should start off small, though. Offer them a moderate-sized reward if they can follow the usage times that you establish for a whole week. Then you can proceed to gradually move up in scale. You could introduce a much bigger prize if they can keep it up for the whole month.
5. Set a good example yourself.
Step back for a moment. If you have Instagram or any other social media account, think about how often you use it. Are you always checking your phone? Do you regulate your own time, as you’re asking your kid to do?
Consider the signals you send through your own actions. If you want your rules to resonate with your kids, then you need to follow them yourself. “Practice what you preach,” as they say.