Getting on the same page as your tween, teen, or adolescent when it comes to social media use can feel like an uphill slog some days.

That’s because it is. 

Over the past 15 years, we’ve been through a technological revolution. 

As parents, we’re learning. We’ve having to navigate issues that didn’t exist in our teen years. With rangatahi who are way better than we are at this stuff. We’re already on the back foot.

So if you’re not ‘winning’ and this feels impossible somedays – BE KIND TO YOURSELF. 

You might be thinking, huh? My young person isn’t putting their device away when I ask unless I get really cross. And it’s causing so much tension because they don’t respect my rules (or the contract we drew up together). They never seem to want to get off, and I’m worried about addiction issues. Not to mention how they never exercise any more or get enough sunlight into their brains. Keeping up with the content they’re consuming is a nightmare and they look at such dodgy stuff. It’s all going to turn out badly and she says I have to be kind to myself?!? 

Yes, I did. 

An effective parent is a parent who is prepared to learn. And we learn better when we’re supportive of ourselves. You know that getting really cross with your rangatahi isn’t the answer for them, so why do you think it’s going to work on yourself? All it does is cause tension, which enlarges the problem. 

Instead of the conflict being over social media use, there’s suddenly an emphasis on their self-integrity. Which just dilutes the original point of conflict. 

Solve it one problem at a time. Kindly.

A Step-by-Step Process to Open the Discussion:

Take a moment to notice their body language and get yourself into rapport with them. You can read about this highly underrated skill here.

Begin with a clear explanation of the problem, which could sound like this, “When social media is the priority nothing else gets done and that concerns me.” 

This sentence is the perfect opener to use – it gives a clear and accurate description of the problem, without pointing the fingers of blame and judgement at anyone. Your rangatahi won’t need to react from a place of defensiveness when you open with a well-crafted ‘I message.’ 

Then KEEP QUIET. Wait for their response. 

Listen to what they have to say.

Summarise what they’ve said and repeat it back to them. 

Wait for them to nod, and say, “Yes.” 

Rinse and Repeat

Ask them a question. 

Listen to what they have to say.

Summarise what they’ve said and repeat it back to them. 

Wait for them to nod, and say, “Yes.” 

Are you getting the idea of the conversation? This is all about finding out what your young person thinks about their social media consumption. 

Your job is to frame the conversation with your original concern and listen to what they have to say.  

Even if what they have to say isn’t something you agree with.

Especially if what they have to say isn’t something you agree with. 

Listening to them fully and completely gives them a space in which to air their thoughts. 

Chances are, they’ve probably got some great thoughts about their social media consumption. 

But you’ll never know what they are unless you are prepared to listen to them.  

Parenting our young people through the challenge of social media use is a learning opportunity. It does not have to be fraught, difficult, or boundary-free. You are the parent, and very probably the one who has paid for the device and the wi-fi to use said device. 

You have a say. 

And so do they. If you want to know what they really think, start listening to what they’re telling you. 

When they know you’ve heard them they’ll be so much more respectful of the way in which they handle their devices. Simply because to be seen, heard, and acknowledged is a basic human need. 

Do you want to upgrade the communication you have with your rangatahi? Head over to the website and check out Teen Talk ™ 

Your tweens, teens, and adolescents will be so glad you did.