My grade-schooler's "studio" for recording videos to her phone. It's important to get kinds using, respecting technology early.

My grade-schooler’s “studio” for recording videos to her phone.

When I’ve told other moms that I write about technology and work in social media, they sometimes ask when I let my kids have phones and how I handle social media with them. What are the rules? What do I allow? What do I recommend?

As a parent, you probably know your child the best. You know your worries, and you know your family’s needs? If you’re a family running to a lot of extracurricular activities, you might feel better if your child has a phone—in case class gets cancelled or their ride doesn’t show up. You may have extended family that lives all over, so social profiles may be a good way to stay in touch.

For my family, staying connected through technology is a big deal. When I send them off to school, I make sure they have their homework, their lunch box, their phone—starting in kindergarten. Well, with kids in grade school to grad school, it didn’t apply to the oldest ones because their “phones” were Campbell’s soup cans wired with string. But technology was always a priority for our now-adult children who are an engineering graduate and a computer science student.

Our “rules” boil down loosely down to these: Be careful. Be smart. Be nice. Have fun. Don’t post photos of your mom that contain more than one chin. My philosophy in guiding my children is the same in social media as it is in life. Live and let live, but block and unfollow as necessary.

I want my children to have access to learning and research tools but with a healthy amount of supervision. As my kid, until you’re an adult, you should let me know what you’re up to and where you’re creating accounts. Share your passwords with me. Tell me if you get bullied. If someone you don’t know messages you, alert me right away. There will be inspections. Friend me. Accept my follow request. Certain accounts must be kept private. Don’t share certain kinds of information online. Your parents will check your phones, messages, browsing history, and more. But we all know the rules are not set in stone. As technology changes, more platforms are introduced, and older ones evolve, rules and expectations morph right along with them. I try to go with the flow—as much as my anxious nature lets me.