Today’s teenagers are saturated by social media. For better or worse it’s a fact of modern life. And many parents have concerns over the effects social media is having on their teens, especially parents who have teenagers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Rightfully so. After all, social media and digital technologies are regularly characterized by their ability to distract us from sunrise to sunset. But there is a healthy approach to social media for teens with ADHD, one that incorporates these amazing technologies as part of a well-balanced routine.
Social Media Tips for Teens with ADHD
Here are a few social media tips and methods for parents to share with their teenagers to make the most out of social media.
1. Why Are You Using Social Media?
When it comes to any activity it’s important to set goals. Prompt your teen to ask themselves, “Why am I using social media? What is my goal?” Is it to connect with friends and family, to stay informed about the world, or as an avenue for entertainment? Having goals helps teens with ADHD stay focused so they don’t get lost in an endless
maze of links and online videos. They won’t easily become distracted when they have a purpose. Then, your teen can foster a positive and productive relationship with social technologies.
Social media does present many positive aspects when your teen consciously uses it with a goal in mind. Not only does it let them stay in touch with those they care about, but there are many support groups and communities that share the latest information on living with ADHD—showing your teenager that they are not alone.
2. It’s Okay to Not Respond to Everything
Teens with ADHD tend to struggle socially, and social media shouldn’t become an activity that exacerbates social stress. Have a conversation with your teen and explain to them that it’s okay to not respond to every post they see. Before posting, they should ask, “Is this worth saying?”
Unlike an impulsive response in the classroom or at the dinner table, conversations in cyberspace live on forever. And the internet can be a volatile place when they say things without thinking them through.
When your teen feels inspired to respond to a post, let them know it’s okay to write out a comment. But then, they should read the response aloud and see if it’s something they really want to say. Doing so encourages them to express themselves while also reflecting on their response.
(Writing in a separate document is a helpful method to prevent accidental posting.)
3. Set a Time Limit for Social Media Use
It can be easy to lose track of time on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. A few clicks and before you know it, the day is over. Which is why teens with ADHD should set an alarm or schedule a time of day when they engage with social media, such as before dinner. Help your teen be in control of their time; don’t let social media control it for them.
When social media is slotted into a particular time of the day, it frees up time for other, more productive, activities. Make social media part of a routine. Establishing a routine helps your teen nurture the self-regulation skills that help negotiate ADHD.
4. Balance Social Media With Other Activities
If each day your teen spends two hours on social media platforms, encourage them to take up another activity for an equal amount of time. Social media is not an activity that should become your teenager’s passion. Help them find something productive, a way to channel their creative and physical energies, whether that be through art, sports, music, etc.
When balanced against other activities, social media is a fine distraction, but it shouldn’t stand in for all other activities, including relationships. Encourage your teen to meet with friends in-person as well. It will help them develop the interpersonal skills that digital devices can’t teach.
By approaching social media with a plan of action, it can become a rewarding part of your teen’s life. As with all things, having a goal combined with moderation turns these powerful social tools into productive parts of our daily routine.
For more tips and information about helping your child with their ADHD, please check out the “Ultimate Guide to Parenting a Child With ADHD” by Dr. Kay Trotter.