We’ve been talking about kids and social media this week. A few days ago I told you about minimum age requirements for most social media platforms (thirteen years of age) and what factors I think you should consider before letting a teen participate.

You can click here to read that article.

If you’ve made the decision that a teenager (I say teen because nobody younger than a teenager should be on social media) is ready to handle the responsibility, I have some suggestions for rules.

  1. The adults heading the household get all passwords and usernames. Non-negotiable.
  2. At least one adult in the household will get an account on the platform and become familiar with how it works. If your kid is going on Instagram, you need to understand it.
  3. All friend requests are vetted by adults. That means sending a request or accepting a request.
  4. I’d suggest limiting friends to people they actually know in real life. (at least for the youngest teens)
  5. If you decide they can be friends with kids they’ve met online, insist that you are allowed to contact the parents of the proposed friend and get a handle on whether this person is who they say they are.
  6. They must friend you, allow you to follow, etc…
  7. Write out a written code of conduct about language, bullying, what types of things they are permitted to share. Make sure they understand what types of information they are allowed to share and what sorts of photos or videos are acceptable. Explain this also applies to anything they are tagged in or that is posted on their pages. Especially make sure your underage kids know that sending or receiving sexually explicit messages, especially photos, can get them into trouble with the law even if it is consensual between a couple.
  8. Learn the privacy settings for the platform and make sure your kid has them on maximum.
  9. Set a time limit on how much time they can spend per day. It might be hard to enforce but it’s really easy for a kid to do nothing else but message friends all day long.
  10. Check up on them. Spot check their messages, Look at their posts and the posts made by their friends.