These are only suggestions, because you know what works best at your house. Other people’s suggestions, of course including these, need your inputs—your family’s values and priorities and your children’s. Because social media is a reflection of the social lives and circles of people of all ages, it’s embedded in our everyday lives (to the extent we use it, of course).
So the “social” basics below are as much about offline social as the online parts. They’re the suggested bones of a family contract or just family discussions. The “safety” basics are just that: the bare-bones essentials that need to be communicated to children from the moment we put connected devices in their little hands.
- Whether in chat, a game, an app, a site, anywhere, never share your or anyone’s personal info (incl. photos/videos) without their (or my) permission – no full name, phone no., address, passwords.
- Only let ppl you know offline – friends from school, family friends, relatives, etc. – follow you or get listed in your phone Contacts or “friends lists” online.
- If you see something online that upsets you, or if someone does/says/shows something to you that bothers you, pls come to me so I can help you with it.
- For gamers: Consider playing only with your friends (in offline life), but if someone you don’t know joins you in a game, just make sure game chat is only about the game and about nothing personal, ever. [BTW, an awful lot of gaming (Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, etc., etc.) is social media too….]
- As a member of this family, you know what’s kind/right/good and what isn’t – this is true anywhere, online or offline – and this is what we always try to be and do as members of this family. If you’re not sure if something is kind/right/good, let’s talk about it.
- Make it your own rule never to do/say anything to anyone, anywhere, that you would not want them to do/say to you.
- If you make a mistake and things go bad, that’s ok—mistakes happen—but talk with me so I can help you work out what to do. I promise I won’t do anything about it myself without talking with you first.
For further reading
- True safety: “The media siege mentality: Antidote for parents”
- About “screen time”: “Screens kids use,” Part 1: “Everywhere and ‘irrelevant'” and Part 2: “Research turning a corner”
- A child and a parent walking the (digital citizenship) talk (as co-authors)
- About lots of things: “6 takeaways from 20 years of Net safety,” Part 1 and Part 2