To Students From Students: 50 Online Rules To Live By | Janell Burley Hofmann | 3 Min Read

Student voice is so valuable in digital citizenship and media literacy. It empowers them to share what they know — giving their Askable Adults a point of reference for both understanding and gaps. One exercise I love to do with the students with whom I work is to compile their advice from their own online experiences in an effort to offer personal reflection and reminders on best practices, and to build peer-to-peer support for other students. This powerful prompt is an exercise in “show what you know” to build confidence and agency in our students as they develop and practice their online skills. 

This collection of wisdom below is from hundreds of middle school students I worked with directly. The compilation gives us a general understanding of how middle school students are thinking about Tech at this moment, but it can be used to open a dialogue with your own students and children or as an individual exercise.

[I combined the same/similar answers. Otherwise, responses came directly from our workshops.]

To Students From Students: 50 Online Rules to Live By

  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 clickbait and ads.
  5. Slow down before clicking and posting.
  6. Create good habits with your 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 conflicts 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 identity 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.

Janell Burley Hofmann

Janell Burley Hofmann is an international author, speaker and consultant specializing on the topics of technology, media, health, relationships and well-being. Janell is the creator of the original iPhone contract and a thought leader in the space of digital mindfulness, digital parenting and intentional use of tech. She is the author of the book, iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming and Growing Up published by Rodale, Inc. Janell is the founder of the Slow Tech Movement and iRules Academy. Janell has worked on four continents across diverse demographics, cultures, religions, and socioeconomics. Sensitive to the needs of each community, Janell works with schools, youth, families, educators, and organizations while offering private coaching and consulting sessions. Janell’s professional expertise and personal experience as a mother of five children builds strong connections with a wide and varied population. Janell engages readers, clients and audiences in relevant and meaningful conversations igniting personal empowerment, awareness and purpose in a partnership that will positively impact all. Janell’s academic background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Media Studies, a Master’s Degree in Critical and Creative Thinking and she is currently working towards her licensure in mental health counseling. Her featured talks include two-time TEDx presenter, SxSW, YPO Southeast Asia Summit, Peace Corp Workshop Leader, Homecoming Day Nagoya University, Nagoya Japan, YPO Middle East Tour, Women2Women International Summit and MIT Strata Center. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Good Morning America, USA Today, National Public Radio, BBC News and The Associated Press.

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