Social media use among adolescents continues to grow rapidly every day. According to recent reports, 51 percent of teens visit social networking sites on a daily basis, and nearly a third of teens visit their favourite social networking site(s) several times per day.

Social media has also gained a prominent role in sport, and not just for athletes, but parents, coaches, and fans as well. With athletes now being exposed to social media at a young age, it’s very important for parents to take an active role in their children’s social media use to reduce the risk of any negative effects it may have.

While there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach for parents to use when it comes to their children and social media, there are a number of ways to help get ahead of any potential misuse and negative behavior.

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  • Set the example: if you’re not behaving properly on social media, it’s hard to expect your children to follow proper social media etiquette.
  • Start the conversation: create a safe and open dialogue between you and your children when it comes to social media. Building trust means they will be more likely to share what they’re doing on social media with you, and they’ll come to you first with any questions or issues.
  • Be assertive, but not over-bearing. Be careful not to turn social media into a ‘taboo’, creating a temptation to break the rules.
  • Communicate: Have a conversation with your children and agree upon an acceptable amount of screen time per day.
  • Trust your children on social media until they give you a reason not to – if they know they already have your trust, they should be more included to ensure they don’t lose it.
  • If necessary, explore measures for monitoring screen time and social media use.
  • Check to make sure your children have their privacy settings set properly on each platform to reduce the risk of information falling into the wrong hands
  • Do your homework and research. The more you know about each social media platform and the risk/reward involved, the more you can relate to your children and ensure they’re using each platform properly and safely.
  • Help them understand that what they say/do on social media has a ripple effect. Family, friends, teammates, etc could all be associated and negatively effected by any poor behavior on social media by an individual.
  • Watch what you say/post . The same goes for parents - your family, your children’s team, etc, will often be associated with what you say/do on social media.
  • Learn from your kids! Children don’t often have the opportunity to be smarter than their parents, but when it comes to social media, they’re often the experts. Use it as a bonding experience, and let them show you the ropes and have some fun with it. You’ll not only learn more about social media, but you’ll get a better idea of how your children use each platform for themselves.