Social Media Doís and Doníts for Parents and Teenagers

By Michael P. Grace

Social media now means far more to teenagers than connecting with friends, exchangingweb safetycomments and uploading photos. It can have direct implications on their lives.

For instance, a Kaplan Higher Education survey of admissions officers at hundreds of American colleges and universities found that a quarter of institutions have reviewed applicants’ Facebook or other social networking pages while considering acceptance and scholarship offers.

Taking a few minutes every day to help students responsibly manage social media accounts can make a lasting impact so they can stand out in a positive way, but it is essential that both students and parents be aware of potential pitfalls. The tips below can help make the most out of Facebook and Twitter interaction to generate a beneficial social media reputation:


  • Review photos your child has posted or tagged; watch for what people are doing in the background (e.g. drinking alcohol, etc.) Additionally, be cautious of objects in the foreground such as bottles, cups, etc.
  • Monitor to make sure they are posting responsibly; students should never express “pride” in criminal behavior such as speeding tickets, detention, truancy, etc. by displaying photos or making comments
  • Watch for photos of a messy bedroom, it could send the wrong impression of laziness
  • Watch for obnoxious comments in posts, or just as bad, poor grammar; text lingo should be avoided in social media
  • Help your child accentuate positive behavior by demonstrating volunteerism and highlighting accomplishments
    • Post photos/status updates of volunteer activities
    • Post photos/status updates of accomplishments e.g. high test scores, dean’s list, athletic achievements, etc.
  • “Like” colleges and universities, and engage forums in constructive manners


Before any tweet, ask your child the following questions:

  • Are you prepared to have this tweet be on the Internet forever? (There is no “web eraser”)
  • Would you enjoy reading this if someone else wrote it?
  • Does this demonstrate how you would like others to perceive you?


  • Help them share interesting news and make sure they cite their sources
  • Help them draft a strong “about me” section
  • Encourage them to be transparent and authentic
  • Does their dialogue make someone want to know you past 140 characters? If not, help them work on that
  • This is not Facebook. Encourage them to ask questions and not make statements about mundane experiences
  • Help them demonstrate interest in particular academic institutions by following and engaging with universities
  • Always, encourage them to think twice before clicking “tweet”


  • Make sure they don’t tweet personal notes
  • Make sure your child does not tweet negatively about their current school, teachers or principal
  • Encourage them not to go on rants via Twitter

It is important for parents and young people to remember that social media platforms have forever changed our lives. It is here to stay, and we must make adjustments to deal with it. By proactively taking steps to create a positive online profile and remaining vigilant against unfavorable content, social media can be a valuable tool to enhance a personal “brand.” For parents, it is important to remember teenagers are going to be on these websites, and if there is an open dialogue, it is easier to monitor their behaviors and guide them in the right direction.

About The Author: 

Michael P. Grace is founder and CEO of Virallock; the world’s first social media profile (a.k.a. viral footprint) counseling service focusing on students and young professionals. The company is dedicated to helping these individuals fulfill educational and career ambitions by enhancing their personal “brand.” For more information, visit