Actually, my child first asked for Instagram. Uh oh. I knew Facebook and Twitter, but wasn’t sure how Instagram worked and I had no idea whether it was OK for a young teen. I was flooded with questions and anxieties. How was I going to decide which social media was appropriate? How would I protect my children from cyberbullying? How would I make sure they weren’t being an online bully? And what about that guy who was recently arrested on charges of sexual assault against a Hancock county minor? Didn’t he meet her through Facebook? What if my child posted something that would get him in trouble at school – or, worse, raise a red flag later when she applied for jobs. But if I didn’t allow Instagram, wouldn’t my child be isolated from peers and unprepared for navigating social media as an adult?
I admit, it was tempting to put all of these issues aside and let my child simply sign up. “Everyone else is already on,” I heard. Google to the rescue. It didn’t take me long to type in “Is Instagram OK for a 13 year old?” and find plenty of information and a variety of opinions. We ended up going with Facebook instead, but only after reviewing and signing a social media contract that spelled out our expectations (see links below). It took some negotiating to come up with a workable agreement, and I’m probably not as on top of regularly checking the accounts and content as I should be…. but it’s a start. While our teenagers think we are on the overprotective side, they have been content with our current guidelines.
Here are a few of the guidelines we kept in our agreement:
- Parents have open access to kids’ accounts. (They have to share passwords and logins)
- Privacy settings are checked to ensure only friends see posts and photos.
- They are only allowed to “friend” people they know in real life.
- They need parental permission to accept a friend request from anyone over 18.
- And three big rules for content:
1) Don’t post anything you would not want your parent or the school principal to see.
2) Don’t post anything on social media you would not say to someone’s face.
3) No cyberbullying. Period.
I’m sure our family will keep revisiting these decisions as our kids get older and new forms of social media emerge. And we’ll learn from the voices of other parents.
How are you managing social media with your kids? Have you found any useful tools or strategies? Comments and conversation are welcome!
– Parent of a Deer Isle-Stonington Student
Looking for more information on contracts for teens? This article is helpful and offers some advice.
Also, here is a link to a SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRACT FOR PARENTS AND TEENS