The DO’s of Social Media for Teens


Like it or not, social media is here to stay– at least for this generation. It is easy to be apprehensive about your teen’s social media use. The don’ts and pitfalls are well documented, and it can be difficult to know what your teen SHOULD do on social media. While logging off permanently is an option for some teens and families, many parents want their teens to learn to navigate this world successfully while they are young and still at home. Teens can “win” at social media! Here are some “do’s” to help teens have a positive social media experience.


*DO maintain existing friendships and relationships. Thanks to social media, long distance friends and family can be a significant part of our lives. Encourage your teens to stay connected to trusted mentors, good friends, and beloved extended family members. Social media can be an online village that builds your teen’s confidence in a healthy way.


*DO remove toxic or demeaning individuals from your social media page. When done right, social media should be a circle of warmth and strength to teens. They should be able to log on, scroll through their contact lists, and know that a support network is only clicks away. The internet can be a cruel place, but many social media platforms allow users to choose whom to interact with. Teach your teens to have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for bullies. If anyone is less than kind and supportive on social media, report, delete, and block that person immediately.


*DO make a few posts public. As your teen applies for jobs, internships, colleges, and other opportunities, he or she will be Googled. Give potential employers something good to find by allowing certain posts to be available to the public. These posts will serve as an online resume or character reference of sorts, highlighting hobbies, intellectual interests, and maybe a thoughtful post or two. A good rule of thumb is to exclude anything that would not be appropriate to discuss at a job or college interview.


*DO remember social media is a public voice. Is your teen passionate about a certain issue or cause? Social media can be a great way to raise awareness and share opportunities to help. Even simply standing up for kindness online can make an impact on someone’s life. Your teen may never speak in front of an audience of thousands, but he or she can reach thousands of people every day on social media. Teach your teens that social media is their chance to make a difference in the world.


Take a break from the don’ts (though those are important) and focus on the do’s of social media with your teens every now and again. Social media is a tool and, like any tool, can be used constructively, destructively, or neutrally. If your teens only never do anything destructive to themselves or others on social media, they are missing a huge opportunity. The safety tips for using a hammer or a saw are necessary, but knowing how to build makes the tools worthwhile.


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