Forget making the football team or honor society, for teens, social hierarchy is measured by how hefty your follower count is on Twitter. Studies show that while Facebook is still the #1 social network for teens, Twitter is one of the top three digital cruising lanes. And if you think your teen doesn’t have a Twitter account, I’ll bet my PB&J and Habanero Doritos, you’re wrong.
Most teens love Twitter simply because that’s where everyone hangs out—kind of like a giant group text. Hilarious videos, snarky tweets, music and fashion trends, and the super power of being able to tap instantly into the social pulse, makes Twitter magnetic for teens. And can you blame them? We adults love it too. Politicians announce policy, marriage is proposed, celebrities scrap, and world news breaks 24/7—all on this little global meeting room called Twitter.
But recent headlines remind us that tweeting teens are getting fired, expelled, arrested, and even jailed for reckless tweets. So now is a great time for a refresher on the ground rules.
5 ground rules for tweeting teens:
- Lock your account. Settings should be private, which means anyone seeking to follow your child’s account must be approved. It’s easy: Click on Settings, click on Account and check the box marked Protect My Tweets.
- Stay in bounds. It’s worth repeating: No tweeting racy photos, mean comments or photos, personal information, or where you are hanging out with your friends. No connecting with strangers, or posting any public threats in a joking manner. Set consequences should your teen go out of bounds on these firm rules.
- A parent gets your password. Tell your kids they are welcome to use Twitter as long as they use it responsibly. Let them know the consequences clearly if you find inappropriate tweets, bullying remarks, cursing, or strangers on your friend list.
- No sharing your passwords with friends. To show camaraderie and trust, teens may share their social media passwords. They like to have fun and jokingly post on a friend’s timeline. Friend or not, this is a dangerous practice. Put a consequence in place for breaking this critical password rule.
- Report abuses. Reiterate to your kids that they need to come to you with the more serious conflicts that breakout online. Teach them how to handle haters and the random creepy people who may attempt to connect with them. Visit Twitter’s Safety Center for specifics.
Parent: Twitter isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important you learn the ropes. If you aren’t on Twitter it is time to open an account, which is incredibly easy, start here.
It’s important to know the culture of Twitter and to be able to coach your kids through the rough spots they hit—and they will hit rough spots. Get to know the lingo. Words like Hashtags, blocks, ReTweets, @ symbols, DMs are terms you may want to know. Here’s a quick Twitter lingo guide.
Review your teen’s account periodically to ensure the ground rules you’ve set are still intact. Be prepared: they will likely go rogue, they will change privacy settings, they will accept friends they don’t know to boost their follower count. Just reign them back in and enforce consequences.
Be sure you have filtering solutions in place. Like any other social network, Twitter is a hotbed for pornography, predators, and questionable links. Be prepared with a filtering solution.