Recently I worked with hundreds of middle schoolers over a few school days. One exercise we did was to compile advice from their own online experiences in an effort to offer support to other students. I was hopeful this prompt would reveal a collection of best practices for everyone. This is precious lived and learned experience directly from our young people. The good news: they are getting it. The next steps: going from knowledge to action. All hands on deck! Together it can happen.
*My edits were only in combining same/similar answers. Otherwise, responses came directly from our workshops.*
1. Search Secure Websites.
2. Don’t sleep with your device.
3. Don’t text random people.
4. Don’t search random sites. Don’t keep clicking. Avoid click bait and ads.
5. Slow down before clicking and posting.
6. Create good habits to devices.
7. Think before you send. Imagine a large audience and many eyes on a post/share/comment.
8. Set social media to private.
9. Don’t buy followers or worry about the number of followers you have.
10. Only allow followers you know – from school, sports, activities, in person.
11. Don’t talk to people you don’t know online.
12. Protect personal info – names, address, bank account, social security number, school info, etc.
13. Don’t overshare/overpost.
14. Avoid fake websites and scams.
15. Get parent permission before purchases.
16. If you see something you’re uncomfortable with tell an adult – don’t hide it!
17. Don’t solve conflict over devices. Do it face to face.
18. Stand up for yourself!
19. Check in with parents before you post.
20. Stay away from random strangers.
21. Use secure usernames and passwords.
22. Don’t sneak!
23. Set a time limit for your screen time.
24. Don’t judge people on social media or make fun of people.
25. Read terms and conditions before agreeing to anything.
26. Make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re posting.
27. Take care of your physical health – sleep, eyes, radiation, posture.
28. Get Permission to Post – Post with Consent!
29. If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see what you’re saying, don’t post it online!
30. Think of yourself and others before posting. Use Empathy!
31. Know your “text tone”. Think of how someone might take it.
32. What you say online is NOT private!
33. Give yourself time to respond if you’re upset.
34. Use your time wisely. Don’t waste all of your free time on screens.
35. Social media impacts your future.
36. Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say in person.
37. Don’t intentionally hurt people online.
38. Don’t send or request explicit content.
39. Let parents friend and follow you on social media.
40. Enjoy other parts of your life besides the screen.
41. Friend and follow people in your age group.
42. Get advice if you need it.
43. Don’t waste money when you’re online.
44. Be aware of how social media can impact your lifestyle and choices – peers and celebrities.
45. Don’t let screens keep you from physical activity and building social skills.
46. Be aware of fake profiles, catfishing and identify theft.
47. Pay attention when driving and crossing at the crosswalk.
48. Avoid content you don’t want to see!
49. Don’t get addicted or too jealous.
50. Put people before devices.