As your teen starts learning about social media and privacy, it’s important they also learn about respectful sharing online. After the privacy settings are handled, they may still be left with questions about what is or is not okay to post. Sure, they might know basic safety tips like not sharing their home address or phone number, but what about pictures with friends? What things should they comment on or like, and what should they leave alone? Here are some important things to talk with your teen about to make sure they’re sharing respectfully online.
1. Talk to them about how their sharing affects others
Make sure your child knows that, while some things they share only affect them, other things can affect people around them. Whether they’re sharing pictures with younger siblings or friends, location tags, or even making comments on other people’s posts, it’s important they know how that affects other people. Teach them to ask permission from anyone they’ve photographed before sharing a picture, as well as parents of friends or relatives who are underage. In addition, remind them even things like likes, shares, and comments can be seen later on by other people.
2. Talk to them about how their sharing affects themselves
While your teen may have heard the phrase “the internet is forever,” they may not fully understand what that means. Take time to explain to them all the ways things posted online can follow them, so they can be aware before posting. Is this something they’re alright with school administrators, future coworkers, and extended family seeing? What about younger siblings? Strangers? Asking questions like these before every post can help ensure they aren’t posting anything that will come back to bite them later. It is important to emphasize this applies to stories too! Consider teaching them acronyms, like RAPID, to help them remember what is and isn’t respectful to share.
3. Remind them to always be kind
There are lots of ways to be mean on the internet, but lots of ways to be kind too! Part of respectful sharing online is knowing not to share things that could be hurtful, dangerous, or easily taken as such. The old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” applies online too! While most teens won’t be doing any serious cyberbullying, they may criticize their peers or comment rude things to or about public figures, which can also be harmful. Make sure they know the importance of being kind, online and off. Make sure they know how and when to block someone who is mean, rather than feeling like they have to engage with them.
Wherever your teen shows up online, this guide can help them share respectfully and enjoy the online world in a safe, enjoyable way!