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Parenting young teens in the social media era


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For those who have allowed social media, do you track it at all? My 13 year old has a phone and I can't imagine taking it away due to his need for social connection, but lately I feel more of a need to monitor his direct messages (don't want to go into details why, just suffice to say that I feel it is necessary right now for his overall well being.) Has anyone found any software that allows parents to monitor DMs? There are all sorts of ways to monitor texts and websites visited, but I'm having a harder time figuring out how to keep an eye on his IG and SnapChat (Both of which I wish he didn't have, but logistically I can't take them away now. Even without a device of his own there would be nothing to prevent him from creating new accounts on a friend's device, from a library or school computer, etc.)

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For everyone helpfully pointing out that this forum is social media, as if the parents whose 13yos are not on Instagram don't know that, please remember that a lot of parents have different rules for what adults and minor children are allowed to do...

 

 

 

I wasn't responding to the idea of restricting it for kids, but for the overall "social media is awful, but I guess if they as adults want to do it I can't stop them" vibe. As if social media was awful for all ages and a terrible thing, but they could only control it for so long. Not everyone was giving that vibe, but a few were. It just seemed ironic to use social media to bash social media :)

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I wasn't responding to the idea of restricting it for kids, but for the overall "social media is awful, but I guess if they as adults want to do it I can't stop them" vibe. As if social media was awful for all ages and a terrible thing, but they could only control it for so long. Not everyone was giving that vibe, but a few were. It just seemed ironic to use social media to bash social media :)

 

Yes, but not all social media is created equal. People are pointing out that this forum is "social media" but forums and message boards predate the words "social media" or at least the current understanding of that term. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, are very different from a moderated message board where a standard of behavior is enforced. To point out repeatedly that people here are participating in "social media" seems to miss the point just a bit.

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For everyone helpfully pointing out that this forum is social media, as if the parents whose 13yos are not on Instagram don't know that, please remember that a lot of parents have different rules for what adults and minor children are allowed to do...

 

My college student takes interstate trips with his girlfriend (now fiancée), plays music in bars as one of his many forms of employment, lives with a roommate who has mainstream, non-Puritan adult habits and semi-sketchy friends, and uses texting and social media daily. Actually, FB Msgr is the primary way he contacts me. His father and I have no problem with any of this. He is a very responsible adult who has a good reputation, highly visible jobs in community and college, a 3.9 GPA, and a full ride scholarship to grad school. His career field is in the clergy; he is a "liberal" Christian but not a libertine.

 

If my 13yo son had friends or roommates who partied, or went on week long trips with a girl, or played music in bars, DH and I would have something to say about that. He is still a child. He doesn't have the same privileges as his 17yo brother, or as his two adult brothers. We think that's normal; we will continue to keep a few rules and restrictions in place for awhile. He will grow in responsibilities and privileges until he's an adult.

 

Our adult children who did not use smart phones or social media until about age 18, did not go hog wild with it, anymore than they went out and became drug users or hellions in other ways. They had not been raised in a bubble. They all used the Internet at home and at the library, all were out in the community with activities and jobs, some had part time classes, they all drove, etc.; they were not sheltered, or expected to live under a lot of control as adults, so there was no need for rebellion or the losing of their minds. They'd had plenty of real life already.

 

 

Yeah, I don't understand why people see this as the same for everyone.

 

I think social media (esp for girls) and video games (esp for boys) are a lot like booze or gambling or soft drugs.  There are risks to all, but especially to a less formed brain.  And it isn't necessarily simply a matter of creating good habits either, any more than I think it's a very good idea for 14 year olds to smoke pot occasionally to form good habits.  

 

In the near term I think SM is a think that may get worse, but I suspect that in the medium term we'll see use by kids and teens come under real scrutiny and likely be really dialled back.

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Yes, but not all social media is created equal. People are pointing out that this forum is "social media" but forums and message boards predate the words "social media" or at least the current understanding of that term. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, are very different from a moderated message board where a standard of behavior is enforced. To point out repeatedly that people here are participating in "social media" seems to miss the point just a bit.

 

Very well said.  Thank you. 

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We have done social media different ways for different kids and I have two different minds about it. First, my kids who were homeschooled through high school (last one is a senior this year) didn't do much social media beyond texting. They also didn't have a huge social group. They had a few good friends, usually through activities or sports, and that was enough for them (introverts all). So it seemed to be easy to deal with SM and teens.

 

Next up, my social butterflies who love large groups, lots of friends and go to public high school (one is a soph and the next will be a freshman next year). We used 8th grade as sort of a training ground. After some mean girl activity on Instagram, dd2 left that. She uses Snapchat exclusively. Ds3 has like 10 group chats going, but we have not allowed Snapchat, because boys are dumb. Girls are too, but not nearly as dumb as boys. He was pretty annoyed by the ruling (supported by his siblings) but then he talked to a friend at a meet who "is the poster boy for why guys are too dumb to get Snap." 

 

However... they use smart phones at school. They can do homework on it in the car to practice, etc. And, it is key to really being part of the social life of a high school. I get that lots of people don't think that is important, but it is very important to my kids (and many, many others, even if they won't admit it to their parents). So we talk, all the time about porn and other bad decisions, coaches following SM for recruiting purposes, why we have the limits we have, etc. They tell me things and unless it is a life or death situation, they know that it will not go beyond me. So we talk, and older siblings help monitor and so far, so good. 

 

SM for teens is not going away. I can't imagine trying to limit or deny it to my social butterflies. That would definitely set up a bad, bad dynamic in our house. So we do the best we can. 

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I just wanted to mention something for those who may not be aware, as I wasn't. We allowed FB and IG at about 13 but are now dialing back and not allowing it for our younger ones at least not for quite awhile. We friended/followed our kids to "keep up with them" but that did basically nothing. They are good kids who are trying to do the right things and their posts were in that vein. So checking up on them was no biggie. However, the explore feature on IG was a MUCH bigger problem for a couple of them and we didn't even know for a long time, until they came to us. this is not something we could have foreseen or really done anything to monitor. I always had a vague idea that what they could see from others could be a problem and would occasionally check their feeds to see what they were seeing (and suggested/required unfriending sometimes when I was not impressed with the posts of some friends) but had no idea what kind of time suck, AND content problem that explore feature was. I am glad they came to us and we were able to help them work through things, including one choosing to completely delete SM all together for a time and completely supporting us not allowing for the younger ones. Just an FYI.

Edited by busymama7
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I have a real issue with this needing a phone for school thing, though it seems to happen here too. It's not like the school is providing them and they are pretty expensive, it's not like asking you to buy your kids a scribbler or even a textbook.

It’s the reality though and the reality that my family lives in. The school doesn’t require it but there’s a lot of group work and most groups choose to organize themselves by working in various apps. One reason they do this is because some students don’t have unlimited texting so they check with each other to see what works for the others. Another reason is so they can see their team partner face to face. It’s a regional draw school so getting together outside of school hours is tricky. My son can video chat with someone for 25 minutes at 7pm to work on something and that person may well live 1.5 hours away from us. My son has never been in a group or team where literally ALL of the kids didn’t have smartphones. I doubt anyone went and got them specifically for school but since they all have them, they use them. I think that’s a good thing.

Edited by LucyStoner
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It’s the reality though and the reality that my family lives in. The school doesn’t require it but there’s a lot of group work and most groups choose to organize themselves by working in various apps. One reason they do this is because some students don’t have unlimited texting so they check with each other to see what works for the others. Another reason is so they can see their team partner face to face. It’s a regional draw school so getting together outside of school hours is tricky. My son can video chat with someone for 25 minutes at 7pm to work on something and that person may well live 1.5 hours away from us. My son has never been in a group or team where literally ALL of the kids didn’t have smartphones. I doubt anyone went and got them specifically for school but since they all have them, they use them. I think that’s a good thing.

 

People find other ways if they need to. Most of these platforms are not that old.

 

Saying it is only something people use because they happen to have it anyway kind of contradicts the idea that it's just a reality that you have to work within and not having it would limit your kid.  If you feel that, I'm pretty sure that parents for whom it is a problem, for money reasons or because of kid's having issues with SM, are also feeling it.  That kind of group pressure drives a lot of this acquisition of tech.

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Thinking about this question of the difference between old fashioned phone conversation - I think it's actually the mobile element.  Before they were common, you were largely confined to being connected to whomever you were talking to at certain times - at home mostly, or where there was a pay phone but most people only use those for basic communication.  School hours at least you just not doing that, or when you were in the car.  There were times you were really alone.  Lots of kids did not have phones in their rooms either.

 

Once you have mobile phones people are always in touch, you can spend your time, anytime, conversing or reading or browsing.  And once you have smartphones, especially with wifi in many public places, you have people constantly connected to SM and texts as well, so that really there is never a time when they are free from them unless they actually turn them off.

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People find other ways if they need to. Most of these platforms are not that old.

 

Saying it is only something people use because they happen to have it anyway kind of contradicts the idea that it's just a reality that you have to work within and not having it would limit your kid. If you feel that, I'm pretty sure that parents for whom it is a problem, for money reasons or because of kid's having issues with SM, are also feeling it. That kind of group pressure drives a lot of this acquisition of tech.

The reality is that smartphones are the norm for high schoolers and have been for some time. In terms of both technology and high school culture, 3-5 years is a long time. If my son didn't have one, it would create a social barrier for him and he’s not a kid who needs his social limitations highlighted.

 

A smartphone doesn’t have to mean pricey phone plan. While we have a different plan now (it was cheaper when we went to 4 smartphones when my brother moved in), for the first year my son had an iPhone (a hand me 5s down from my husband), his plan was about $10 a month. We are a household of 7 on a snug for 4 people income in a HCOL area. I see kids I know come from very low-income families, like my niece, with smartphones. Teens are often getting used phones. The idea that smartphone = expensive extravagance is simply incorrect.

 

The school has take-home internet hotspots for all families who ask for them regardless of income. I’m guessing there are some students who, like my niece, don’t always have their phone service on who appreciate greatly the ability to text their friends using WiFi either at school or that they get from school. I know I appreciate that I can get my niece and nephew (and they can get me) on Snapchat voice when their parents haven’t paid their bills.

 

Also, having a smartphone needn't mean that a child has unfettered access to social media either.  We still have to approve every app my son wants to download and he thus far hasn't shown an interest in social media for the most part, though I have encouraged him to consider twitter because of the #actuallyautistic hashtag and because I think his sense of humor is very twitter compatible.  He's not there yet and that's ok.  

Edited by LucyStoner
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When I set up the Iphones, I made it so that everything that comes through a child’s phone also comes through mine. So I see every text and every phone call, etc. I am also on all social media accounts as friends, followers, whatever.

 

Some would call it overly snooping. Too bad. Before DD17 went to college, she was an online personality. My snooping was part of the plan to keep her safe. And then now, with her being younger and away at college, it gives DH and I some comfort in knowing she is safe and meeting good friends.

 

Her 18th birthday is coming up and one of her gifts is to get her off my phone. If she wasn’t responsible, or if at any time she becomes irresponsible, I will change the phone back.

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We are limiting social media for our young teens far more than we did for the older ones.  The APA now recommends middle schoolers only have 3 hours a week of social media time and I totally agree--and will do less from now on.

 

 

I typed a long post about our experiences but deleted bc privacy.   We learned our lesson in multiple ways.  We will be much more cautious and allow much slower access to our younger ones.  And no texting that adults can't see until later teens.  Sensible, mature children do not always make sensible decisions.  They are still children and they are trying to learn independence so they experiment.  Social media that is unsupervised is just not safe for experimentation.  And it is an easy place for toxic friendships to thrive and make it so your child has no safe place to escape.

 

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We are limiting social media for our young teens far more than we did for the older ones. The APA now recommends middle schoolers only have 3 hours a week of social media time and I totally agree--and will do less from now on.

 

 

I typed a long post about our experiences but deleted bc privacy. We learned our lesson in multiple ways. We will be much more cautious and allow much slower access to our younger ones. And no texting that adults can't see until later teens. Sensible, mature children do not always make sensible decisions. They are still children and they are trying to learn independence so they experiment. Social media that is unsupervised is just not safe for experimentation. And it is an easy place for toxic friendships to thrive and make it so your child has no safe place to escape.

Interesting. I had no idea the APA had any guidelines regarding SM.

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When I set up the Iphones, I made it so that everything that comes through a child’s phone also comes through mine. So I see every text and every phone call, etc. I am also on all social media accounts as friends, followers, whatever.

 

Some would call it overly snooping. Too bad. Before DD17 went to college, she was an online personality. My snooping was part of the plan to keep her safe. And then now, with her being younger and away at college, it gives DH and I some comfort in knowing she is safe and meeting good friends.

 

Her 18th birthday is coming up and one of her gifts is to get her off my phone. If she wasn’t responsible, or if at any time she becomes irresponsible, I will change the phone back.

I am glad to know this is an option and will investigate it when the next phone upgrade comes around. Thanks!

 

Everyone else, I'm still reading, taking it all in. I appreciate you all sharing about your experiences and what works well for your families.

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I am glad to know this is an option and will investigate it when the next phone upgrade comes around. Thanks!

 

Everyone else, I'm still reading, taking it all in. I appreciate you all sharing about your experiences and what works well for your families.

The salesman at the AT&T store set up our account for DD and placed the option so that all of her calls, texts, etc. come through my line. I do not know if a parent could do it themselves. The downside is that she can see mine, too. It is as if the two phones are one, but, with different numbers. To me, it is a small price to pay to ensure a child’s safety.

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We have never banned social media or internet, or phones.

 

Oldest wanted no part of it until recently, he is 20.

Middle only does it because he has to for school.  His theater productions have a FB page, his friends text and snapchat, even about homework, etc...

Youngest is the one who is the most into it.  But he has a 4.0 in middle school and is very responsible, so we don't fight it.

 

I feel it is much better to learn responsibility with it than to ban it.  YMMV

Edited by DawnM
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