One of the most effective ways is to create a social media contract between you and your child. A social media contract spells out the rules, guidelines and consequences for your teen so he knows exactly what is expected from him while he engages online.
Here are some ideas on what to include in a social media contract between you and your teen:
- The names of the social media sites your child is allowed to use (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
- The log-in and password credentials for each of your child’s social media accounts
- Rules for who your teen can follow or friend on social media
- Whether or not you (as the parent) will follow or friend your teen on social media and if your teen can unfriend/unfollow you
- An agreement about the privacy settings your teen must have on all social media accounts
- A promise to not cyberbully and to whom your teen should report cyberbullying
- An understanding that parents can and will check on the teen’s social media activities, unannounced and at random times, on all devices, including the teen’s smartphone
- Guidelines for what is acceptable to post
- A list of consequences if your teen violates any of the terms of the social media contract
- Spots for signatures and dates
If you’re not sure how to draft a social media contract, check out this sample contract that can be downloaded as a Word document so you can revise according to your family’s needs.
It’s not just about Facebook for your teens
A recent Pew Research Center study found most teens are getting bored with Facebook and turning to other social media networks. Here’s a list of some of the popular social media sites with teenagers, including a snapshot each site’s privacy settings:
- Twitter users send “tweets” of 140 characters or less. There is no minimum age to join. Users can set account to private and protect their tweets.
- Instagram allows users to share personal photos. Users must be at least 13 years old, and they can set profiles and photos to private.
- Vine allows users to create six-second videos. Vine users must be at least 17 years old. All content and user information on Vine is public.
- YouTube lets users upload and watch videos. Users must be at least 13 years old. Uploaded videos can be set to “private.”
- Tumblr is a blogging site where people can upload blog posts, pictures and videos. Tumblr doesn’t have a minimum age, and all content is public.
- Ask.fm allows users to post questions to the community. Users must be 13 years old. All user profiles and content are public, though you can turn off anonymous questions.
Be in the know
Social media is at the cornerstone of most teens’ social lives, but as a parent, you don’t have to be left in the dark about what your teen is doing on social media. Be aware of the popular social media sites used by teens. Clearly spell out your expectations and consequences so your teen doesn’t have to guess how to use social media to your standards. Creating a social media contract (as well as reviewing it periodically) will be an important catalyst for conversations about Internet and social media safety with your teen.
This article was adapted from articles originally published in Inside Trinity, a Hibu publication. Reprinted with permission.
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