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A Social Media Guide For Families

Dear FPS Families,
I hope this letter finds you and your family well. As educators and caregivers, it's crucial for us to address the growing concern surrounding the impact of social media on children's mental health. In today's digital age, social media platforms play a significant role in the lives of our children, shaping their perceptions, behaviors, and overall well-being.
 
Research suggests that excessive use of social media can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including increased feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and cyberbullying. The constant pressure to conform to unrealistic standards, compare oneself to others, and seek validation through likes and comments can take a toll on their mental health.
 
As parents, guardians, and mentors, it's essential for us to engage in open and honest conversations with our children about their social media usage. By fostering a supportive and understanding environment, we can empower them to make informed decisions and navigate the digital landscape responsibly.
 
To assist you in initiating these conversations and supporting your child's mental well-being, I've compiled a list of resources and tips:
 
1. Set Healthy Boundaries: Encourage your child to establish limits on their screen time and prioritize activities that promote offline connections and hobbies.
 
2. Lead by Example: Be mindful of your own social media habits and model positive digital behaviors for your child to emulate.
 
3. Educate About Online Safety: Teach your child about the importance of privacy settings, online etiquette, and how to recognize and report cyberbullying.
 
4. Promote Self-Esteem: Help your child cultivate a strong sense of self-worth by focusing on their strengths, talents, and achievements outside of social media metrics.
 
5. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on the latest trends, apps, and challenges circulating on social media platforms to better understand your child's online experiences.
 
6. Encourage Offline Activities: Encourage your child to engage in activities that promote physical exercise, creativity, and face-to-face interactions with family and friends.
 
7. Seek Professional Support: If you notice signs of distress or significant changes in your child's behavior, don't hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional or counselor.
 
Remember, open communication and ongoing support are key in helping our children navigate the complexities of social media while safeguarding their mental health and well-being.
 
Below are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
 
American Psychological Association https://www.apa.org/topics/social-media-internet/social-media-parent-tips 
Keeping Kids safe on social media. What parents should know. 
 
Internet Matters https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/social-media-advice-hub2   
From oversharing to monitoring who they are talking to while they are online, our expert article provides insight on how to help teens share safely on social media.
 
Today Show Spot  https://www.today.com/parents/teens/kids-screens-resource-guide-parent-rcna121140 
Here's a list of resources for parents that are designed to help parents keep their kids safe in a digital world.
 
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s counselor/social worker or school administrator if you have any questions or concerns. Together, we can empower our children to navigate the digital world with confidence and resilience.

Sincerely, 
Michael J. Testani
FPS Superintendent of Schools