My tween daughter and her friends seem to have two homes for their cell phones: clenched in their hands or tucked into their back pockets. While their typing fingers are faster than mine and their selfie game is definitely spot on, there are a few things I want them to know before their posting habits get too deep.
1. First up: duck faces. Meh. And yes, I know, one or two won’t hurt anyone. But maybe switch it up every once in awhile. Please.
2. I know the cool thing to do is to cull your Insta feed down to six pictures or less at all times. But one of the best things about social media is that it lets us tell our story and look back on it. Stop deleting yours.
3. Love yourself — and I mean that. Don’t try to make yourself seem like anything that you’re not. Smart, strong, kind, funny, all day, everyday.
4. Respect yourself. Every single thing you post, text, share, or DM can — quite literally — be seen by anyone. No love interest is worth a future college admissions officer or in-law (*or me!) seeing your body shots or sexts.
5. In that same vein, any love interest who pressures you to send her or him things like that should be kicked to the curb. #seeyoubye
6. Your girlfriends are all that is good in this world, so act like you know this and always treat them like they matter. Give compliments, ask before posting pictures of them, and write kind comments on their posts, pictures, and videos.
7. If you have the chance to step in and help someone who is having a hard time, take it every time. No likes on his picture? Be the first. No comments? Leave one. If someone else is making fun of them, step in. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask me. It’s that important. Be remembered for being a friend, not for being a scroller.
8. Asking to be “rated” or leaving rates on Instagram. Just…why? Stop that.
9. Your voice is powerful — use it kindly. Don’t purposefully exclude, untag, or hurt.
10. If your gut says that something doesn’t feel right, listen. There is nothing more powerful or right than knowing how to listen to your own instincts. Trust yourself. Pause. Walk away. Ask for help.
11. You never have to participate in anything that you don’t want to online. Not group texts. Not memes. Not anything.
12. If you need me, I’m here. If you want me to give advice, step in, or just shut up and listen — that’s okay. Just tell me. As long as you’re safe, I’ll follow your lead. You’re managing a lot right now (more than I ever had to) and I respect that; I respect you. But you don’t have to do any of this by yourself. I’m here.
13. You will never get in trouble for making a mistake, but you will for lying to me. See above: I’m here, talk to me.
14. Quality over quantity, with everything. Followers, posts, comments, friends.
15. You are not better than anybody else. Does that sound harsh? It’s not meant to. You are important — and worthy and lovely and wonderful — and every single human being is equally so. Never act like anyone is beneath you; they’re not. (*If you do this, you’ll lose your phone privileges. Yes, really!)
16. Don’t take yourself too seriously. A little laughter can turn most things around.
I know that this list applies to both girls and boys. But right now my world is filled to the brim with tween girls, so that’s what I’m writing and focusing on. And a world filled with tweens who use the Internet sans too many duck faces? It’s a better one, in my book.