WHAT CAN PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS DO TO ENHANCE THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA WHILE REDUCING ITS HARMS
Establish a media use plan. Youth with autism can benefit from clear, concrete guidelines about the use of social media, including how much online time is healthy and what types of content are beneficial versus harmful. Provide concrete examples and a written or pictorial set of guidelines for your family’s media use plan.
Educate your child about the potential harms of social media, such as how to recognize negative and inappropriate content, including cyberbullying and deception, and the importance of never disclosing personal information online. Explain in simple terms what bullying is, using role-playing and concrete examples.
Encourage your child to ask you whether specific content is appropriate and to report cyberbullying to you. Tell your child to refrain from liking, forwarding, or sharing negative messages. Report bullying to the school, online platform, or law enforcement.
Minimize or eliminate the use of social media in the bedroom, especially during the hours before bedtime, to promote a good night’s sleep.
Encourage in-person social interactions with family members and friends involving activities your child enjoys.
These steps can help youth with autism take advantage of the benefits of social media while reducing its potential harms.
*Geraldine Dawson Ph.D. shares these tips in Psychology Today from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy's Advisory 'Social Media and Youth Mental Health' from earlier this year.