When children are young, it seems like every parent can’t wait until their baby takes their first steps, says their first words or better yet, sleeps a full night. Parents can sometimes be in a hurry to see their children reach all of their milestones rather than just sit back, relax and enjoy being in the moment with them.
Yet, that all somehow changes the moment a child grows up, starts to become self-aware, realizing who they are and what they want. And yes, one of those things on their ‘want list’ is their own social media account. As a parent, the last decade has been spent documenting their lives on multiple accounts. And now that the children have grown into pre-teens, they're saying it's their turn to do the same thing. Or so they think.
Allowing a child to have their own social media account is a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
With that being said, here are 20 ways that parents dealt with their children’s first accounts, along with their rules and regulations.
20 Wait Until They Turn 13
Generally, a lot of social media sites state that you have to be at least 13 years old in order for you to open your own account. Unfortunately, kids as young as 7 and 8 are controlling their own accounts, with or without their parents’ knowledge. With that being said though, a lot of parents make it a clear rule that their kids are not allowed to have any type of accounts whatsoever until they reach their teen years. “I don’t care how many kids have accounts, mine know they have to wait until they are 13 before they can have their own,” says one mom named Heather.
19 Follow The Rules
As many people know, it’s very easy to get emotional or to say things online or in front of a screen that you wouldn’t otherwise say in person. That’s why so many moms and dads worry about their kids and yes, other kids who use social media. Things can get pretty heated, and downright out of line if the rules aren’t followed. “The moment I see anything written or posted that doesn’t follow the site’s guidelines or my own guidelines, I confiscate my daughter’s phone. She needs to obey the rules if she wants to play,” admitted one mother with three kids.
18 Be Mindful Of Followers
Not only should you be careful of who messages online, but kids should also be mindful of who they allow to follow them on their social media accounts. One dad says, “If they don’t know who that person is in real life, then they are not allowed to follow my kid, or interact with them whatsoever. I know a lot of kids think it’s fun to have thousands of followers, but there’s no way that they will ever have thousands of friends, no matter how popular they think they are. Social media isn’t real life. My kids need to understand that.”
17 Remember: Nothing Is Ever Private
Here’s something else that kids should always keep in mind: nothing is ever private. The moment you share your private thoughts, your photos, your status update or even “like” someone’s post, it stays online forever. Social media is a great way to connect with friends, but it can also get pretty intrusive, too. One mom named Liz adds, “What I worry about too is all of the content that my kids see from other people and their accounts. So not only do I monitor who follows them, but I make sure that they are not following anyone who is posting [unsuitable] stuff, too.”
16 Know Who Trolls Are….
If you have a child that has a social media account, there’s a good chance that they might come in contact with “trolls,” and yes, those trolls might even be people they know in real life. They are the kind of people who will leave you not-so-nice comments on your profile or provoke you in ways they wouldn’t otherwise dare in real life. “There are bullies online and in real life but in my honest opinion, the ones that sit behind a computer screen or a smartphone are ten times worse,” says mom Nicole. “That’s why I talk to my daughter, who is in middle school now, about trolling. You can’t let them [take away] your happy space online.”
15 One Social Media Account Is Enough
When it comes to social media, it can be very easy to get carried away with having several accounts at once. And before you know it, your child is addicted to their screen so much so that they can’t put it down without constantly checking for likes, new posts, and status updates. “Last summer my daughters had Pinterest, a music sharing app, a photo sharing app and so many other ones that I just couldn’t keep up with everything,” says one mom named Lauren. “I told them that one social media account is enough, and to pick one and just stick with it if they like it.”
14 Don’t Be A Mean Kid
We’ve seen it at school, at the field, on the court, and yes, even on the big and small screen: cliques. A lot of people stick with a group of kids (regardless if it’s a group of boys or a group of girls) and they form a ‘clique,’ and apparently, they have been doing it online, too. One mom named Ava admits, “I try not to get too involved with my daughter’s friendships because I know things can change from year to year, but when I noticed that my daughter started excluding her best friend from her social media posts and pictures, I did worry. She was becoming a ‘mean girl’ online so to speak and I talked to her about it. Being excluded hurts, even when it’s not in real life.”
13 Selfies And Self-Esteem
Here’s another pitfall to social media: it can have a serious effect on your self-esteem, especially as a tween, pre-teen or a teen. This mom puts it like this, “I actually banned selfies in our family. I don’t want my children to spend endless time trying to capture the perfect shot in front of an iPhone, just so other people can dissect or quietly analyze their appearance online. There’s just so much that’s wrong with today and the selfie culture. I’d rather have my daughter and her friends love what she sees in the mirror, and without all of the added filters.”
12 Social Media And Addiction
As many adults already know, social media can get very addicting. Each and every time you post a new photo, it’s hard not to respond to all of the notifications you get with numerous likes and comments from your friends, family members, and followers. This mom says, “I know I’m a hypocrite when I say this, but I don’t understand why my kids constantly check their social media apps after they’ve published a post, but I guess I’m the same way. There’s just something kind of gratifying knowing that you are getting attention for something you’ve shared about yourself with the world. Kids get a buzz out of it the same way adults do. It really is an addiction.”
11 Never Post In Anger
This applies to a lot of adults, too. My parents tell their children that the last thing they want to do is post anything in anger. One dad offered this advice, “Just like with angry emails, write out a couple of drafts. Get everything that you have on your mind out on paper or in front of your screen. Read it to yourself a couple of times. But never, ever hit send or post. Erase it all before the world gets to see it. Because there’s a good chance that you will realize that you are not as angry as you think you are. Also, other people’s feelings might get hurt, too.”
10 Social Media Isn’t Real Life
Here’s something important that every person should keep in mind: social media is not real life. One mom named Kristina says, “A lot of kids pick up their social media habits from their parents. And more often than not, they see their moms and dads posting everything from their highlights reel on their accounts. You have to remind your kids that life isn’t as perfect, happy, or as filtered as they see it on social media. It shouldn’t make you feel bad just because your friends have the latest Gucci belt or get to visit Morocco for Spring Break. There’s a downside to seeing everyone’s highlights all the time. It makes you feel less worthy.”
9 Put The Phone Down During Family Time
Last but not least, remind your kids that they should live their lives without having to check their phones every ten to 20 minutes a day (and that’s a conservative estimate, by the way). Mother-of-two Kristina says, “If we are spending time as a family, whether it’s at home on the couch or at a restaurant, the kids are not allowed to take their phones out. That’s a huge rule in our house. I don’t care how many social media alerts and notifications they get, there’s a time and place for everything. There’s no phone usage before bed or homework time, either.”
8 Don’t Message Strangers
Here’s a huge rule that every parent can agree on: don’t message people you don’t know. What’s more, don’t accept or respond to any messages that come from anonymous people. One mom named Suri says, “It’s not only a problem on social media, but on gaming apps, too. That’s why I always check my kids’ inbox to make sure there aren’t any messages from people trying to reach out to them. The problem with social media is that it’s so easy to pretend to be someone you are not, no matter what age you are. That’s why I monitor what they do every day.”
7 Think Before Posting
Here’s something that both kids and parents should keep in mind each and every time they pick up their smartphone: think before you post. Sure, you might want to comment about the latest events, something that has been bothering you at work or school, or something you might think is funny and cute, but make sure that it's appropriate. “I tell my kids all the time, think twice before you post anything,” says dad Alex, adding, “It’s the internet. You might think it’s deleted, but someone could have easily gotten a screenshot before you pulled it down. You don’t want anything attached to your name that might get you in trouble later on.”
6 Parents Always Have Access To Accounts
Here’s another major rule that is enforced in a lot of households: parents must have access to their children’s accounts. In other words, there’s no hiding behind their screens or trying to come up with multiple accounts in hopes that their parents won’t find their real one. But that doesn’t work in every household. One dad named Francisco says, “We know all of our kids’ passwords. If they want to know our password to the house Wifi, then we need to know the passwords to all of their social media accounts. It’s our trade-off, whether they like it or not.”
5 Check Privacy Settings
A lot of people think that they have their privacy settings on lock, but they really don’t. Yes, there’s a huge difference between posting things in public and only posting things to your friends, but there are a few other things to keep in mind. One mother-of-two says, “My kids have several social media accounts but I always give them two rules. Never post your photo as your profile pic and never use your real name in your handle or anywhere in your bio. I want them to be as private as possible and I don’t want anyone searching them online, either.”
4 Yes, Mom And Dad Can Follow Their Child
Not only do a lot of parents have access to their children’s social media accounts, but they also follow their kids online, too. In other words, they have both access to your social media passwords and they can follow, like and comment on the content their kids create or share online. Of course, not everyone is happy about this rule. One dad named Jack said, “My kids told me that I can follow them under one condition. As long as I don’t comment on any of their posts, we are okay. They don’t want their friends thinking that the only social media activity they get is from their dorky dad.”
3 No Social Media During School Hours
Here’s another big rule: a lot of kids are not allowed to use their social media accounts during school hours. As a matter of fact, many parents, teachers and school administrators even forbid kids from bringing our using their cell phones inside a classroom. This mom said, “Once the grades go down or are below a C average, I take the phone away. We are really strict about screen time and phone usage. Grades come first. Homework before social media. It’s part of their job and it’s something I’ve been telling my kids for years. There are no exceptions to this rule.”
2 Never Use Full Names
We’ve mentioned this above but we will say it again: kids and teens should never use their full name on their social media accounts, and especially in their bio sections. It’s just asking for trouble. One mom named Maria said, “My daughter actually used her full name – and even her middle name – on one of her accounts. It made us feel very uncomfortable, as it not only made her searchable, but someone could also steal her information. She’s just a tween. That’s why we came up with a shortened version of her name and a nickname that she can use online. Her safety is a priority especially when it comes to social media.”
1 Kindness Counts
As mentioned above, it’s pretty easy to get passionate about certain things online. It’s also very easy to say things that you wouldn’t otherwise say to someone’s face, regardless if it’s good or downright ugly. One mom named Kayce puts it this way: “If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, definitely don’t post it online. Don’t be passive aggressive about anything, either. Kindness always counts. Even on social media, what goes around, comes around. I don’t want my kids saying things that they will later regret, five, 10 or even 15 years from now. The internet can get pretty brutal.”
Sources: CBS News, CNN, Reddit, crowdsourcing