Mediating social media use: Connecting parents’ mediation strategies and social media literacy

Special issue: Young Children’s Use of Digital Media and Parental Mediation

Increasingly complex and multipurpose social media platforms require digital competences from parents and adolescents alike. While adolescents grow up with social media, parents have more difficulties with them, leading to uncertainties regarding their adolescents’ social media mediation. This study contributes to parental mediation research by (1) investigating whether mediation strategies defined by previous research are also relevant for social media use, and (2) exploring whether parents’ social media literacy is connected to the choice for a certain mediation strategy, as previous research already identified other impact factors such as children’s age or family composition. Using a qualitative research design, we interviewed 14 parents and 13 adolescents from 10 families in Belgium. Results indicate that, consistent with previous research, parents in this study mostly use active mediation focusing on risks and safety on social media. However, some parents monitor their children through social media accounts specifically set up for monitoring, or specialized mobile apps. Furthermore, parents with high (mostly critical) social media literacy choose active mediation over restrictive or technical strategies, recognizing opportunities of social media and letting adolescents explore on their own.

Parental mediation; media literacy; social media; parents; adolescents

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