Social Media. It’s everywhere! People stand in line, sit waiting for an appointment, walk across the street, scrolling, selfie-ing (is that a word?), updating, announcing, photo-bombing…the opportunities to find yourself caught up in the social media world are pretty endless. But what happens when your kids want to go along for the ride? What do you do when they feel they’re ready for social media? Here are 9 tips to help you get them off to a good start:
- Educate yourself on the different Social Media Platforms
Every social media platform has a different set of rules. Some allow for more privacy than others. Some allow for easier access to deviant behavior than others. Either way, it’s important to know which platform will best suit your child’s desire to be social.
- Allow one social media platform at a time
Social media is a learning process and like most things in life, it requires responsibility. Set up guidelines and rules they have to follow to prove they can handle their first account. Once those guidelines are met, then talk about adding another account.
- Set up their account and know their password
Setting up your child’s account with them will help with accountability in the long run. If they are aware that you can log onto their account at any time, this will make them more mindful of what they post.
- Check their privacy settings regularly
Privacy on social media is so important, but sometimes it can be so confusing. Learn the settings, especially what information will be considered public and how your child’s information will be shared.
- Limit their number of followers
Social media should enhance friendships, not feed the need for validation. Decide what criteria a person has to meet to be your child’s follower. Ask your child questions like: who is this person, where do you know them from or what type of relationship do you have outside of social media? If they can’t answer basic questions like this, that person probably doesn’t need to follow them and vice versa.
- Hold them accountable for what they allow
When a follower posts something or tags your child in something inappropriate, have them show/tell you immediately. This keeps them in the clear and alerts you if the follower needs to be deleted or if another adult needs to be alerted.
- No non-family adult friend’s personal pages
No adult needs 13 and 14-year-old friends. Unless it’s a trusted adult friend, there’s really no need for them to follow your child and vice versa. This helps create healthy boundaries in adult/child relationships.
- Set limits on social media scrolling
Social media can be a great tool to stay connected to family and friends, but everybody needs to take a break every now and then. Set time limits to how often your kids can scroll through their feed. If you need a little help, there are plenty of apps you can download to your child’s cellphone/tablet to ensure they follow the rules.
- Talk about the dangers of social media
It’s easy for a child to believe their world is safe, and rightfully so, but the reality of the world we live in is that there are people who are looking for kids to harm via social media. Discuss the importance of not sharing too much information and set boundaries on what’s okay and not okay to post.