What Are Some Basic Social Media Rules for Middle Schoolers?

The number of preteens using social media is climbing. Kids age 8 to 12 spend an average of 18 minutes a day on social media, while teens spend about an hour and a half. Watching online videos on platforms like YouTube or TikTok is also a popular activity among kids and teens.

Whether your kids are already using social media or asking to get started, it's a good idea to teach them some basic rules. Here are some guidelines for helping middle school kids use social media safely and responsibly:

Follow the rules. Many social sites have an age minimum of 13 by law and for reasons of safety and privacy. Encourage kids to stick to age-appropriate sites.

Tell your kids to think before they post. Remind them that everything they post can be seen by a vast, invisible audience (otherwise known as friends of friends of friends). With middle schoolers, it's a good idea for parents and caregivers to have access to what their kids are doing online. That way, you can be sure that what they're posting is appropriate, and help your kids avoid doing something they'll regret later.

Make sure kids set their privacy settings. Privacy settings aren't foolproof, but they can be helpful. Take the time to learn about default settings and how to change the privacy settings on your kids' favorite sites and apps, and teach them how to be in control of what they share.

Kindness counts. Lots of sites have anonymous features, such as Q&As and discussion channels, that allow users to tell their friends what they think of them. Rule of thumb: If your kids wouldn't say it to someone's face, they shouldn't post it.

Updated July 2, 2022