There is no denying that kids today are growing up differently than when we were kids. Long gone are the days of passing notes between friends like we did as kids. Instead, technology is everywhere and social media is the new norm. While it can be a scary topic for parents, there is also a lot of good to come from social media. We’re here to share our tips for introducing your tweens to their own social media accounts.
1. Let them start on your phone
This is kind of like the best of both worlds. Perhaps your kids are interested in learning more and seeing photos from a particular sports team, actress, athlete or even just family members. Let them start by exploring those accounts on your phone. This provides supervision while you teach them about how to use various social media outlets.
2. Only start when they are ready
Just because their friends have social media accounts doesn’t mean that they should. When my daughter turned 10 we felt like she was mature and responsible enough so it was a birthday “present” for her. Does that mean all 10 year olds are ready? Probably not. However, you know your child, what they are capable of, and have to be the one to decide when they are ready.
3. Set password/privacy settings
Set up the account and passwords together so it was something you both know and will continue to be something you both know. This way you always have access to their account. Also, be sure to set up strict privacy settings.
4. Manage who they follow
Of course I want to be sure she was looking at appropriate accounts, so I guided this process to help connect her with friends, family members, her sports teams and other teams she looks up to.
5. Follow who they follow
Want to keep up with what your kids are seeing? Follow the same people and that includes their friends. That way you can see pictures and comments (usually a lot of emojis) that they are exchanging.
6. Manage who follows them
Because of the privacy settings, I approve every person who wants to follow her. She knows not to approve anyone and that I must be the one to do it. Only IRL (In Real Life) friends are approved, as well as, their parents, her teammates, coaches, teachers and family members. Even if it is a friend of a friend that she’s heard a lot about, but never met, I don’t approve. I’m a stickler on this, but it was part of the deal up front. She totally understands and accepts it.
7. Discuss online dangers
Of course you don’t want to scare your tween, but in a way you do want to scare them. If they are responsible enough to have their own social media accounts, then they are old enough to know about online predators and the dangers that come along with having an only presence.
8. Teach kids about online reputations
It’s sad to hear stories of kids being denied acceptance to colleges, getting kicked off sports teams and even young adults loosing jobs over social media posts. What they post is there forever and will follow them into adulthood. I always tell my daughter she should never post anything that she wouldn’t feel comfortable showing, saying or doing in front of her grandparents or teachers. That seemed to really help drive the point home.
9. Approve before they post
Even with her understanding of online reputations, I still approve everything before she posts it. If there is a picture of video she would like to share, she edits it, writes the caption, adds her hashtags and shows it to me for the final approval before hitting share. This way, I’m certain nothing gets online that shouldn’t.
10. Limit cell phone use
While connecting with friends, sharing pictures and getting inspiration from athletes and artists is all a great thing, it isn’t the only thing. Kids still need to be active, creative and social with the real people around them. For that reason, we set parameters for cell phone use. I have her set a timer and stick to it so she has time to feel grown up scrolling though social media, but also lots of time to be an old-fashioned kid!