It's important that your tween follow certain rules when involved in social media, and it's just as important to review those rules with your child from time to time. To make sure your tween is behaving online, review the proposed social media rules below. Add your own or personalize the list below as you think is needed. You can even turn the tips below into a social media contract that your tween has to sign and follow, or possibly lose his privileges.
Social Media Rules for Preteens
- Be Polite: Unfortunately, many people who use Facebook, Twitter or Youtube are rude, obnoxious or just plain mean spirited to others. Be sure your tween understands that you won't tolerate rude or ugly comments, and that you will be watching what he posts. It's fine for your child to express his thoughts and individuality, just be sure he also knows that it's not OK to single out or harass people who don't agree with him. This is a lesson that your child will be able to apply to other parts of his life.
- Don't Bully: Bullies have taken to Facebook, cell phones, Twitter and other online services to bully other children. It's horrible and it shouldn't be tolerated. Let your child know that bullying others is always wrong, and that it hurts, even when it's done online. It can also get your child into a lot of trouble at school and possibly even with the law.
- Don't Expose Family Problems: No family is perfect, and while it's important to work through family issues, it's not OK to expose your family challenges in a public forum. Family members deserve privacy, so your tween should understand that ranting about Uncle Dave or complaining that Grandma is always embarrassing you isn't fair to air in public.
- Be Positive: If you spend any amount of time involved in social media you'll see that people spend a lot of their time online complaining. It can become contagious and can influence how you behave when you're not online. Try to get your child to see social media as a way to focus on the positive instead of complaining about everything that's not so perfect in life. Being positive online may help your child develop a positive attitude offline.
- Select Photos Carefully: One of the biggest dangers of social media is how photos can be quickly shared and possibly even used against you. Help your tween develop a strategy for selecting photos to put online. And remind him that he shouldn't feel the need to share everything that goes on in his private life with his contacts online. Another tip: you can prevent your child from posting something embarrassing by asking him to follow this rule: If he wouldn't want his Grandmother to see his photo or read his update, then he probably shouldn't put it out there for everyone else to read.
- Know Your Limits: Social media should be a privilege and something that your child doesn't take for granted. If your child's online involvement is interfering with his life, you might want to limit his online time. The same applies should his grades fall, or should he withdraw from families or friends.