The 10 Commandments of Instagram: How to Be a Good Human When Sharing Photos

Rachel Simmons is one of our favorite authors to read. She has created the Ten Commandments Of Instagram. Following these can help youth — heck, all of us — avoid drama online and be upstanding digital citizens. We love her suggestion of printing out the Commandments and putting it on your fridge!

By Rachel Simmons:

Instagram rocks. I love it, and so do the youth I work with and study. The latest Pew survey says 18 percent of teens use the photo sharing service, which has about 150 million users. As I travel around the country speaking about social media and bullying, I hear about the many ways photo sharing can become an opportunity to disrespect people, start fights and make people feel excluded and small.

It’s time for some guidelines on how to be a good human on Instagram. I came up with these with input from a bunch of kids, teens, parents and educators. I encourage you to talk about them with your kids and share them with teachers. Print this out and put it on the fridge. Following these Ten Commandments can help youth — heck, all of us — avoid drama online and be upstanding digital citizens.

1. Thou shalt be the same decent person online that thou art offline. If you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, “Your hair looks cray,” don’t type it, either.

2. Thou shalt never judge someone’s appearance negatively in a comment, even as a joke.

3. Thou shalt not post photos of people that they don’t know about, don’t want you to post, or might find embarrassing. If you are asked to remove a photo, do it immediately. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s funny.

4. Thou shalt remember that JK can be just as hurtful online as it is offline — “OMG your vacation looks so boring haha” — and people are way less likely to think you were kidding when they can’t hear your tone of voice.

5. Thou shalt realize that when you post something online, everyone sees it and it doesn’t go away. It’s like walking into a crowded cafeteria with a bullhorn and poster-size photo. Don’t want to do that? Kay.

6. Thou shalt remember that everyone worries about getting likes. You matter more than the number of likes you get. Promise.

7. Thou shalt not crop others out of photographs to exclude them, unless they are your Mom and you want to post a cool photo of yourself.

8. Thou shalt never create anonymous handles or jack anyone else’s account. Untag yourself from rude photos or comment threads.

9. If thou art in middle school or younger, keep your settings private and only accept follows from people you know.

10. Thou shalt not post photos that share body parts normally covered by bathing suits. However, thou shalt rock your seflies early and often, accept compliments without putting yourself down, and enjoy celebrating the fabulousness that is you.

Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to reduce bullying and empower girls and young women.

Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator who works with schools and organizations around the world. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduate women at the Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College. She has previously worked as a classroom teacher in Massachusetts and South Africa.

Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and is a contributing writer for TeenVogue.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah and the Today show, and appears regularly in the national media. Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter and West Highland Terrier, Rosie, who is currently taking private workshops with Rachel to learn how to stop bullying other dogs. Become a fan of Rachel Simmons