A parent’s guide to social media in 2022

parents on social media. parents guide to social media.


Social media use is widespread in Australian teens. The trend is growing with the development of new apps such as ‘TikTok’ being used by approximately 746,000 young Australians.

What is social media?

The NSW Government defines social media as a ‘range of online platforms and applications… that allow people to publish, share and discuss content.’ This may include applications or websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Social media in schools

Most schools ban the use of phones and recommend parents limit the use of social media and phones.

Jessica Chilton, Head of Student Wellbeing at Meriden tells us, “Meriden does not allow mobile phones to be used at school, to avoid distraction from student learning. We encourage parents not to allow students access to phones in the evenings, so as not to interfere with their sleep.”

However with 88% of children aged 12 to 13, 97% of children aged 14 to 15 and 92% of children aged 16 to 17 using a social networking service staying offline can be difficult.

Adolescents are inherently social beings. While acknowledging this need to connect, we believe that students are best placed to learn and socially and emotionally develop when they have limited exposure to social media. Meriden encourages our students to become involved in the life of the school through our cocurricular program. Our afterhours homework and study programs allow them space outside timetabled lessons to socially connect with their peers.

Jessica Chilton, Head of Student Wellbeing, Meriden

Australia’s Research Alliance for Children and Youth identifies “healthy children and youth have their physical, development and psychosocial and mental health needs.”

Meriden. Meriden student girls. meriden student girls at school. girls gathered around a table. students on table.
Credit: Meriden School

Internet and social networking activities enable children to access information, advice and support. With 99% of young Australians online daily parents can only enforce online safety.

Many schools are playing an active role in informing parents about cyber safety.

With new apps, websites and engaging platforms arriving regularly, St Leonard’s College takes an extremely pro-active approach to ensuring students and families are safely navigating the online space. We provide regular and timely advice on the routine ways parents can both help and monitor their child’s use of technology and social media, as well as comprehensive seminars and expert guidance surrounding these issues.

Tim Barlow, Director of Technology Innovation, St Leonard’s College

Helping your teen use social media safely


Facebook suggests reviewing privacy shortcuts and account settings with your child to make selections you are both comfortable with.

Privacy settings allow you to choose your audience when you post. Account settings allow you to manage ‘profile and tagging’.This enables you to set who can see posts and tagged content on your child’s timeline.

Age Minimum: 13


TikTok has family pairing features which allow you to link your TikTok account to your teens.

This enables a variety of content and privacy settings including ‘Screen Time Management’ and ‘Restricted Mode’.

Source: TikTok, https://www.tiktok.com/safety/en/guardians-guide/

Age Minimum: 13


Instagram has a variety of privacy features for teenager’s to utilise.

Using a private account ensures your child’s content is only seen by their followers. Instagram allows you to remove a follower, block accounts or delete posts. Comment control settings allow you to choose who comments on your posts.

Find other ways to limit unwanted interactions on Instagram here.

Age Minimum: 13


Snapchat’s privacy settings allow you to choose who can send your teen snaps, view their stories or location on the ‘Snap Map’.

Information about accessing various privacy setting options on Snapchat are found here.

Age Minimum: 13

Tips for parents:

Alongside navigating privacy and safety settings on online platforms parents are encouraged to have conversation with their teenagers about how the engage online.

The Australian Government identifies 3 main risks to consider:

1. Contact Risks

Your child could talk or play online with a stranger or allow apps to access their data. Discuss the ramifications of revealing personal information online including their name, age or locations.

2. Conduct Risks

Unkind or disrespectful conduct towards your child may escalate to online harassment, threatening or cyberbullying. Using the above settings can assist with this. Have discussions with your child to ensure they are not perpetuating these behaviours.

3. Content Risks

Your child may watch shows, view content or play games unsuitable for their age. Make sure you engage age appropriate settings on social media and the internet where required.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.


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