Ask Maggie: What are the Rules for a Pre-Teen on Social Media?

August 7, 2018

Dear Maggie,

My daughter is 11 and almost all of her friends are on Snapchat and Instagram. I don't want her to be the "weird kid." I do want her to be able to connect and share with her friends ... but I also know that we need to lay some solid ground rules. I need some help on figuring out what those rules should be. Any ideas?

Dear 11’s Mother,

Do you like clubs? I LOVE clubs. I used to make tons of them when I was a sprite and spirited 11-year-old with a perm that no pre-teen should have. Despite my hair challenges, my clubs were very successful around the neigh-bo-HOOD! 

Fine, they weren’t really. It was usually just me, myself, my perm and sometimes my little sister ... if I admitted her. If Insta were around then, I’m certain it would’ve been a different story. Swarms of members! But anyways--my clubs were well thought out and for this reason, I am able to dig into my historical years and give you some super-duper guidance.

I want you to make a club with your 11-year-old. The most EPIC club EVER! 

A club, that like my own successful club ventures, has four key components (circa 1986):

  1. Delightful entrance requirements (You must have a perm like mine.)
  2. Well-planned and posted rules (No inviting little sisters.)
  3. Stiff consequences for those who do not abide by said well-planned and posted rules (The surrender of one coveted Cabbage Patch doll)
  4. Like all elite memberships, wanna-be members must sign on the dotted line. (In bubblegum-pink ink, of course.)

I was well before my time, if you ask me.

So, let’s make a club. A “Social Media Starter” club for you and 11. Because you are right as rain thinking that you need to construct a solid concrete path of hardcore “I’m The Sheriff In Town” ground rules (you have to say that with a deep, echoey voice for impact).

A concrete path that you can pull right out from under her at the first sign of club member defiance. Because you better believe your Mama Bear abilities can pull concrete out like a rug! Here are details on the rules for our club:

Delightful Entrance Requirements

Sheriff says:  First of all, most social media platforms require users to be at least 13 years old, so for now, baby steps. Start with Messenger for Kids... you control it and she can still connect with friends online. When she's old enough for other platforms: Private account. No location tracker. Shared password with you (the sheriff). You are her first FRIEND on both accounts. (Now you can watch.)

Well-Planned and Posted Rules 

Sheriff says: Only friends you know. No conversations with adults. Don’t post anything you don’t want someone to read or see. Be nice. Set time limits. 

Stiff Consequences 

Sheriff says: Buh-bye. That’s it. If the rules aren’t followed, buh-bye to Messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat, and also she must now get a perm. If you waver as Sheriff, then you get a perm too. 

Sign On the Dotted Line

Sheriff says: Develop a contract outlining your specific rules above. Make 11 sign on the line or scan her fingerprint or something techy. 

Monitoring Mama

Then see where this takes you. Monitor the Mama out of this because that is YOUR JOB as Sheriff. Don’t be lax. Become a daily Instagram and Snapchat surfer. 

BUT respect her privacy and don’t be the Maniac Mama that posts on her “gram” or chat page. But for SURE silently surf her feed. Silent but deadly. Or something like that.

Now: Go sign up for an account. Change your own settings to private (some novices, unnamed, neglected to do this and showed the world their outtakes as they learned it all!) and begin to play around and see what’s so FUN about this!

Go find a filter on Snapchat that (amazingly) makes you look like you’re 11 again. My skin has never looked better ... and the eyelashes? WHAT WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?

But remember why you’re there, Sheriff. 



P.S. I’ll be hosting a club next week in my backyard. Entrance requirements involve bringing an item that starts with W and rhymes with bine, Rhine, or fine.

About Maggie: I'm a mom of three, master of none. All of my insights come from experience and personal opinion, so feel free to take what you like and leave what you don't 'cause truthfully, I don't know any more than you do.


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