Social media is a great tool that allows people to connect, share and support each other by clicking a mouse or tapping a screen. But without appropriate guidelines and boundaries, it can be a tool that is used for meanness and even bullying. Our district's bullying policy and procedures includes instances of cyberbullying. But it takes all of us working together to help keep social media channels appropriate for children and teenagers.
Here are some resources designed to empower parents and other adults to stay involved in their children's lives on social media. While it wouldn't be a good idea (or even possible!) to monitor and control everything that someone does on social media, having regular conversations with your children and teens will help set and reinforce guidelines for appropriate, healthy and positive use of these great tools.
Setting guidelines for your family
It's important to understand that the dangers of social media are not limited to one site or one type of setting. Social media is changing every day, with new sites, new tools and new opportunities for users. However, parents and families can set guidelines for appropriate online interactions that will help guide the use of any social media platform or application. A Platform for Good is a great site with a host of helpful resources for ongoing guidance and support to keep young people safe and healthy on social media.
And always remember that the first step to guiding young people is asking questions and really listening when they talk. If you can ask who they will be hanging out with on a Friday night, you should also ask about the experiences they're having on social media. It isn't always easy, but keep working to keep those lines of communication open!
Social media platforms
Facebook: Networking site that allows users to create and share information, including text, videos and photos with their friends.
Twitter / Vine: Twitter is a site for short text sharing of 140 characters or less. Messages or "tweets" may include links to other websites, including YouTube, and may include a photo. Vine is a video-only sharing platform that is often used with Twitter; Vine videos are limited to only eight seconds.
Instagram: Photo sharing platform that allows followers to comment and/or "like" photos. Also includes creative photo editing capabilities.