How to Have a Conversation With Your Teen/Tween About Social Media

Sep 18, 2020 | CTC Blog, Parent Education

Last week I received a call from a mom, alerting our community to a violent and harmful social media post on Tik Tok.  Her child had been exposed to the video when a friend showed it to them.

Thankfully, her child let her know what they had seen.  She reached out to me because she knows Communities That Care and wanted to alert parents and other trusted adults in the community so they could help protect kids from the traumatic and harmful effects of seeing this video.

Now, I am reaching out to you.  This isn’t a new conversation, but it is an important one.  Social media and screen time are a part of our kid’s lives and we, the trusted adults, need to do our best to guide and protect our kids.  We need to be having ongoing conversations with our kids about social media, gaming, and the internet in general.  In order to do this skillfully, we must educate ourselves.

Below are a list of resources, designed to empower you to have conversations with your kids around screens, gaming and social media.  Just like in substance use prevention, we use the same principles here:

  1. Keep open lines of communication – listen to your child.  Be the safe and trusted adult in their life.  Ask them what they think appropriate boundaries are around screen time use.  Come up with a family media plan together.  They are more likely to follow rules when they have been consulted.
  2. Set clear boundaries – be explicit with your family rules.  It helps if you and your parenting partner are on the same page.  Clearly spell out the positive and negative consequences that will occur with your child’s use of the phone/computer.
  3. Monitor your child’s screen use – they don’t have a phone/computer, YOU have a phone/computer that they are using and you have a right and an obligation to check on their history and what they are viewing.
  4. Reward positive behavior and follow through on consequences for breaking your family agreements.
  5. Have this conversation again and again.

If you don’t know where to begin, begin where you are.  As parents, we must have these conversations upstream in order to support our kids physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

You’ve got this!

Resources for Parents:

Create a family media plan on appropriate screen time use for your family.

Learn about the social media platforms your kids are using:

The Parents’ Guide to Teaching your Teen Online Safety

How to check screen time:

iPhones have a setting where you can track screen time and specifically social media time.

The Disney Circle app also lets you regulate and monitor your kids screen time.


View an informational panel discussion for parents on youth mental health – hosted by the Park City Community Foundation.

Click here to watch the recording and take-aways from the PCCF Crest series webinar  on teen suicide, mental wellness & social media:

To see more content from Crest Speakers Collin Karchner and Jason Reid:

Collin KartchnerSave the Kids,

See his TEDx talk>>

Jason Reid

See his TEDx talk>>

Suicide Prevention:

Take a suicide prevention training.  You can find upcoming QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainings HERE.

Recommended Parenting Resources from Communities That Care:

Mary Christa’s Favorite Parenting Books:

  • “The Journey of the Heroic Parent” by Dr. Brad Reedy
  • “Mindful Parenting” by John Kabbat Zinn
  • “The Awakened Family” by Dr. Sheflali Tsabury
  • “Nature and the Human Soul” by Bill Plotkin
  • “The Dance of Anger” by Harriet Lerner

Resources for Youth

The SAFE UT app is free and anonymous.  Every child with a smartphone should have this app on it.

Kids can use it  to chat, text or talk with a mental health professional 24/7.  Students use this app to:

  • Talk with a professional if they are feeling sad, suicidal, anxious, worried, etc.
  • Talk with a professional if they are concerned about a friend  – they can have their friend on the chat or call with them and together they can problem solve the situation.
  • Anonymously report concerns such as substance use or bullying, threats of violence, threats on social media – anything they want to report and stay anonymous.  The reports are sent to the counseling team at the school.

Here’s a link to the Safe UT app.

Join your school’s HOPE Squad and be a positive, trusted peer leader.  Reach out to your school counselor to join.

HOPE Squads are available at Weilenmann School of Discovery, Ecker Hill Middle School, Treasure Mountain Junior High, Park City High School and North Summit High School.

If your school doesn’t have a HOPE Squad, but you would like to start one, contact Alyssa Mitchell

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