Social media is a valuable tool that can help children connect with friends and family, learn new things, and express their creativity. However, it’s also a platform that can expose children to risks such as cyberbullying, online harassment, and exploitation.
It truly is the Wild West out there! It’s vast, unpredictable, adventurous, and dangerous. Dropping your kids off in this strange land with a fervent prayer that they’ll be ok and some inadequate advice like, “Be careful, make good choices, and don’t trust strangers” isn’t enough.
To help keep your kids safe while they use social media, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with them about the rules and expectations you have for their behavior online. Having a social media agreement with your kids can help establish clear expectations and boundaries.
Here are a few social media statements to consider making a part of your family’s Social Media Agreement:
- I will ask permission from my parents before joining any social media platform.
- I will give my parents (and not anyone else) my sign-in info to all my social media accounts.
- I will set the privacy level to the most private on all my social accounts.
(People can use clues from photographs, and the things I say, to work out the details of my life. What I post on social media is for friends and family only, not the whole world.)
- I will immediately alert my parents if I ever receive any threatening or sexual messages or images.
- I will only ‘friend’ people I have met in real life.
(You may get a friend request from someone your age who is friends with all your friends, but that doesn’t mean they know him either.)
- I will maintain the spiritual and academic standards set by my parents.
- I will only ‘follow’ people and organizations with my parents’ approval.
- I will take breaks from social media at my parents’ discretion.
(This may upset you, but you’ll also feel better after being periodically disconnected.)
- I will think very carefully about what I say on social media.
(Be kind and respectful. Do not bully, harass, or intimidate others. Talk about events and ideas, not people. If you have an issue with someone, resolve it face-to-face, not via social media.)
- I will think very carefully about the images I post of myself.
(Taking photographs of body parts and posing in a sexual way is not allowed.)
- I will think very carefully about everything I post, share, and ‘like’.
(Do not share anything that could damage your reputation or future opportunities. It will always be permanently available, even if it can be immediately deleted or hidden, like snaps or stories. People who know technology well can access images and words that have been deleted even if the app tells you otherwise. Even private messages can be copied and pasted somewhere else. When you are an adult, someone can look you up and find everything you ever put online. This includes future spouses, kids, boyfriends, girlfriends, bosses, co-workers, and neighbors.)
- I will not download or use any software or apps that are not approved by my parents.
- I will not use social media during family time.
- My parents have my permission to check any of my social media accounts whenever they choose.
- If I do not follow these agreements, I will lose my social media privileges for as long as my parents feel it is necessary.
(Understand that we love you more than anything in this world, and that we have created these boundaries out of that love.)
Download our Social Media Agreement by clicking here. We created this helpful tool for you, so you can begin to have these important conversations and ensure that your kids stay safe and are responsible while using social media. It’s crucial to regularly review and update this agreement as your kids grow and their social media use evolves.