It's safe to say that social media has completely changed how most of us spend our time—children included. For parents in a co-parenting arrangement, social media can be a significant stressor, especially if the parents disagree on how they should use social media. Understanding how to approach social media as a co-parent can help you prevent conflicts with your child or co-parent.
How Should I Handle Social Media as a Co-Parent?
There are a few steps you can take to manage social media with your co-parent:
- Agree on boundaries for your child. If one parent allows their child to use social media whenever they want, but the other restricts the child’s social media time, you're setting yourself up for conflict. If both parents agree ahead of time on how their child should use social media, your child won't feel as though you or your co-parent is being "unfair" with your rules. Discuss how long your child can access social media for, what kinds of platforms they're allowed to use, and how heavily you want to monitor the content they take in.
- Set boundaries with your co-parent. You and your co-parent should agree on what to post on social media personally. If you don't want your child's other parent posting pictures of your child on Facebook, make that desire clear. How you use social media will also inform how your child approaches social media platforms, so make sure you and your co-parent are both modeling responsible social media usage for your child.
- Discuss whether or not tools like location-tracking apps or parental controls are appropriate. If you have a young child, tools such as parental controls can allow you to ensure they only see age-appropriate content online. However, if you have an older child or a teenager, trying to restrict their media access or forcing them to use a location-tracking app is more likely to result in resentment and destabilize the parent-child relationship than it is to make your child safe. You and your co-parent should be on the same page when it comes to tools like location-tracking apps or devices.
- Figure out ways you can use social media (and media in general) to have fun with your child. For example, playing videogames with your child can be an excellent way for parents to connect with their child.
Social media is a stressor in many co-parenting relationships, but it doesn't have to be. Proactively setting social media boundaries can allow you and your co-parent to establish healthy boundaries for your children.
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