Remember when we were kids and our parents sat us down to discuss the birds and the bees? (Yea, neither do I but we will talk about that later….) As parents we are told we should talk with our kids about difficult topics like alcohol, drugs, sex and pornography. Today’s generation has a new topic to add to the list. Social Media.
Since the launch of MySpace in 2003 – and subsequently Facebook in 2004 – social media has exploded and many parents are finding it hard to keep up. You may not be able to navigate Tumblr or understand what a hash tag is, but here are some helpful tips to remember when it comes to social media:
10 Social Media Commandments for Kids & Parents
- Talk to your kids about Social Media. Don’t hand your child an iPhone and tell them to “be careful with it”. If we don’t lay down the ground rules of what is acceptable and what is not, how are 13 year old boys supposed to know any better? TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Be frank and upfront. If they are old enough to have a social media account (or even be able to text), then they are old enough to understand the consequences of making a poor choice as it relates to social media.
- Connect with your kids. If your kids are on social media, you should be too. And you should follow, like or connect with them so you can monitor what they are posting to ensure it is acceptable.
- Be cautious of what your kids put on their profile. This sounds so obvious, right? You would be SHOCKED at how many of my friends kids I follow on various social media platforms that post their FULL name, the school they attend AND their age in their PROFILE.
- Use the control settings! All social media platforms have some sort of privacy settings, and they are there for a reason. Understand how they work and use them to help control who your child connects with. Parents can also utilize them for restricting who can view profile information.
- Be aware of how much information you are giving away. Posting pictures of yourself on ANY platform can give individuals information on where you live, who your friends are or what time of day you are home alone. It’s fun to post pictures of yourself, but be aware of who might be able to see them BESIDES your Instagram friends.
- DO NOT TOLERATE BULLYING. Notice I didn’t say “Don’t bully”, because that’s sort of an obvious statement for a variety of reasons. But you should also NOT TOLERATE bullying. If you see anyone threatening, harassing or trying to embarrass ANYONE, report it to a parent, teacher or trusted adult immediately.
- Don’t post pictures you might regret. Again, sounds obvious – but it’s not just about posting pictures of yourself, don’t REPOST pictures from others that are inappropriate, abusive or grotesque. If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, then don’t post it.
- Don’t forget common sense. Consideration of others and compassion seem to be lacking these days. Don’t post pics all over your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account of a great sleepover you had, knowing others who see those pics weren’t invited and will have their feelings hurt.
- If you post it, they will find it. Along the lines of No. 6 above, remember that EVERYTHING you put online is, well, online. FOREVER. No amount of SnapChat is going to save you from embarrassing messages or pics you thought were deleted forever.
- NEVER click on pop-up ads. (My mom needs to remember this rule too! ) If you’re using a computer to access social media, don’t click on pop ups or links that offer something for nothing. (Bill Gates is NOT giving away $5,000 if you click his link, nor is “Apple” giving away iPad minis. If it’s too good to be true, IT IS.)
These are main points to keep in mind. Do you have any tips for parents that you implemented in your household?
Image by James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons