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Kids and social media: Tips for developing positive habits before it's too late

With social media ever-present in our lives, figuring out when and how to introduce it to children is something every parent will have to deal with eventually.

As Toronto-based child-life specialist Caron Irwin explains, social media isn't going anywhere, and that means preparing children to handle it. There are ways you can bring positive habits into the home, she says, even when they're just toddlers or preschoolers.

"It's going to be in our kids' lives forever and I think that parents have an opportunity to teach their children skills to help them develop what they need to know to navigate social media positively and safely, and so we can start doing this at a young age," Irwin told CTV's Your Morning on Wednesday.


Irwin says children constantly learn from what they see and experience in the world, including their parents and caregivers.

"We have an opportunity to make sure we're role-modelling the behaviours that we want them – and the values that we want them – to have when they're using devices themselves," she said.

If you believe it's important not to have any devices around the dinner table, Irwin advises parents put their own screens away and be present.

"Be intentional. Put your device in a drawer. If you want your kids to engage in conversation by looking at people and talking to them, then do that yourselves," Irwin said.


When it comes to sharing photos of your kids on social media, Irwin says asking for your child's permission is not only a show of respect, but also stresses the importance of consent.

Showing them that you're thinking critically about what it means to share something online — even if it's just for a 24-hour period like with an Instagram story — will hopefully teach your children to think that way themselves.

"If kids see their parents and caregivers asking them and showing them what they want to post, why they want to post it, how they hope people will engage with what they're posting, you're normalizing that for your child," Irwin said.


Once your kids are on social media, the work doesn't stop there, Irwin says.

As far as staying up to date with the latest developments in the world of social media, she says talking to your children can serve as a great resource.

"It's just a space to open and learn, and not only are you going to learn how your kids are engaging with these things, you're also creating a space where your kids know they can come to you to talk to you about problems or things that arise as their social media experience goes on," Irwin said.

Watch the full interview with Caron Irwin at the top of the article Top Stories

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