Social Media Guidelines Your Tween Should Know

Social media rules your child should follow for health and safety

Smiling girl (12-13) using laptop in kitchen
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Tweens today practically live their lives on social media. They may be on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media outlets, and many preteens stay connected to their friends and family 24 hours a day using social media. While you make sure your tween behaves in a restaurant, at church or in other public settings, you may not have reviewed social media rules with your child, or considered how social media can impact your child's health and happiness.

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. Rules and guidelines will help keep your child safe and prevent your child from becoming a victim to online bullying, manipulation, or other areas of concern. 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

  • Stay Involved: The most important social media rule for your tween is that you be involved and monitor social media behavior. If your child is being harassed online, he or she needs to let you know. Be sure your tween understands that you are there to advise and support, and that you want to know about anything that could be problematic for your child. 
  • Be Polite: Unfortunately, many people who use Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms 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 or she posts. It's fine for your child to express thoughts and individuality, just be sure he  or she also knows that it's not OK to single out or harass people who don't agree with him or her. This is a lesson that your child will be able to apply to other parts of 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 or her that he or she shouldn't feel the need to share everything that goes on with contacts or friends online. Another tip: you can prevent your child from posting something embarrassing by asking him or her to follow this rule: If he or she wouldn't want his or her Grandmother to see the photo or read the update, then it's probably best not to post.
      • 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 or her life, you might want to limit their online time. The same applies should grades fall, or should your tween withdraw from family or friends.

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