Speaking on stage at the annual literature event Hay Festival in Wales, Grylls said that children should learn to self-regulate how much they use the internet, and how they use it.
His comments were made after a child in the audience asked for his thoughts on the power of social media.
“Social media can be brilliant, it really can,” he said, via The Times. “The brilliant side of it is that it connects us, and you can learn stuff so fast and you can have fun and it’s brilliant entertainment.”
He continued: “The key, though, is not letting it control you. You control it. So you be in charge.”
The celebrity adventurer warned the audience against permitting social media to “erode you”.
He said: “If I’m on it all day, that’s going to erode your heart a bit.”
Grylls added that he and his wife, Shara Grylls, did not set rules how long their three sons – Jesse, 19, Marmaduke, 17, and Huckleberry, 14 – are allowed to spend on social media.
“I say ‘Set your rules’,” he said, adding: “You’re in charge because after you leave school nobody’s going to be policing it for you.”
“You’ll have to police your own life. That might be eating healthy, or going to the gym, or if somebody treats you badly in a relationship then having some boundaries and saying: ‘No – I’m not going to let you’. You’ve got to police yourself with social media as well.”
The Man Vs Wild star added that he is concerned that children are sometimes “lost” in the world of their smartphones, and encouraged parents to teach their children “practical skills” because they may not be equipped later in life.
“I meet many big, strapping men who will say to me: ‘I really want to learn how to tie this simple knot – I feel a bit inadequate that I can’t tie the roof rack on properly,’” he explained.