Do You Manage Your Kids Social Media?

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If there is one thing that me and my peers tend to agree upon it is that we are glad we didn’t have to live our teen years through Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The thought of what might be to come when my two are old enough to utilise the big wide web on their devices scares the bejesus out of me. Just the thought of them having a Facebook account and using it in the way teenagers do, i.e. say they work at New Look, add 5 years to their age, flood the feeds with gorgeous selfies and be less than restrictive with their security settings frightens me and really makes me wonder where it could possibly go from here. Make no mistake however progress it will and no doubt the internet will be a new and even scarier place by then.

As for the here and now, well there are plenty of dilemmas that face today’s teens, tweens and parents. We all know being a teenager is hard enough, but being a teenager with Facebook showing you what your peers, have or have not got or do or do not look like adds a whole new level of pressure to the already image conscious  youth.

Worryingly though it goes further than that, particularly as a parent. Knowing your teen is taking these beautiful pictures of themselves and posting along with their friends on to the internet can make you worry as to who is actually seeing these photos, will they fall into the wrong hands? And what if the photo is inappropriate. We have all heard the headlines and read the stories about young (and older for that matter) people sending personal and private images. Yes I hear you gasp at the thought of a teenager sending a private picture, but simply put, it happens. Whether it is out of an error in judgment or misplaced trust- whatever the reason I am unsure, but it does. The ramifications of this going wrong and photos being shown to the wrong people however can be catastrophic, especially for the young and sensitive teen.

head in hands in fromt of computer

Its not just this, instant messengers have added a whole new dynamic to the teens life. It is well known that teenage girls can be…temperamental…with each other, oh who am I kidding, sometimes they are just down right bitchy. Anyway it used to be the case that you would fall out at school, it would no doubt be traumatic for all involved but you would go home at the end of the day, your separate ways, cry it out and come back the next day having had the space of the night to digest it. Now however it never ends. Thanks to the free and instant messaging the argument at school can be brought home and dragged out through the night and you never really know who is behind the screen. Are you talking to the person you fell out with or her and a group of others? Further when everything is written its, context, tone and intonation is not translated. It is the emotionless written word that allows teens to blow messages out of proportion, take things the wrong way and spend hours over analysing every word. Oh and my goodness some of the things these young woman (and men) say to each other is just horrendous – trust me I have seen them. The damage these words can cause should not be underestimated.

Thanks to the likes of Snapchat and Facebook that arguments and bullying are taken so far and are so persistent that it is not uncommon for the police to become involved. I am not saying that police were never called to brake up a scrap between lads after school before the .com days but it would seem today that instant messaging, photo shop, Facebook etc, can be used to be so hurtful and cause so much damage to individuals that parents feel they have no other option other than to involve the police in a bid to bring the drama to an end.

teenage girl using social media

So what do you do? As a parent what is your role in this? Mr Tammy has a now 15 year old and we have had our fair share of internet related drama over her schooling days so I speak with some experience in the matter, although I by no means consider myself an authority on the subject. We have toyed with and trialled many options but I am still not sure  as to what is the right thing?

I know of parents who have access to their children’s social media accounts and supervise them, read messages and just generally keep a watchful eye. I understand the peace of mind this gives and would never judge anyone who takes this route, it may well be the route I go down when my time comes. However there is nothing stopping your child creating an a new and hidden account, and what about privacy and giving your children some freedom and independence? Should that not be respected too? Just because they don’t want you to know about or see certain things doesn’t automatically mean it shouldn’t be trusted.  Should we just trust? Trust our children to make the right choices we hopefully instil in them? Trust them to seek our guidance when needed? I don’t know. For my part I would like to think I could have the best of both worlds. I would like to think that I could trust my children to be savvy and sensible yet want to openly share things with me. Having been a teenager myself though I know this is a big ask and I am not naive enough to assume that this, no matter how much I might crave it, will be the reality. So over to you #Whatwouldyoudo? or what have you done? I would love to hear from you.

Diary of an imperfect mum
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28 Comments

  1. October 12, 2016 / 6:08 am

    I’m so glad that the Popple is too young for all this social media stuff now – although who knows what will be around by the time she’s a teenager? I have no idea how I’ll handle it, to be honest – I find the whole thing terrifying. You want to protect them, but at the same time teenagers need a bit of personal space – and I imagine it’s hard to get than balance right. #FamilyFun

  2. October 12, 2016 / 6:22 am

    It’s a tough one and something I worry about when my children get older. I’d first advise them to not have an account at all. But if everyone else has.one then they will too I imagine, so I’d ask them to ignore it if they’ve fallen out with a friend the best way to finish the drama is to not react. It gets boring for the other person then. I’d definitely want access to their accounts that way I can manage anything untoward. It’s scary how easy the Internet can destroy a child and I’ll do whatever is possible to protect them from it. We never had anything this major when I was younger so it’s a whole new world x #familyfun

  3. October 12, 2016 / 6:22 am

    This is definitely a tough one… I have always said that I will educate my children in such a way that they will be fully aware of the dangers associated to internet and social media and hopefully make them learn how to navigate without getting into too much trouble. But let’s be honest here, no matter how hard we try with our kids and how many times we tell them about the dangers, they will end up using social media in a fearless way and most of the time we won’t know what is going on with them and the internet!
    I just hope that by the time my little one is big enough to use the internet there is already something to help parents deal with this dilemma…
    Thanks for hosting the #FamilyFun linky by the way!

  4. October 12, 2016 / 7:22 am

    My daughter is only 2 so thankfully I don’t have to deal with this yet,. But I do have parental control and restricted settings on the tablet in case she is innocently watching bubble (Mr Tumble) and presses on something and a not so kid friendly video comes on. Technology and social media are amazing but it does worry me about what my child’s experiences of it will be in the future. I think my thoughts would be to educate her as best I can and trust that she makes the right decisions.. which may be easier said than done when it comes to it.
    #familyfun

  5. October 12, 2016 / 7:35 am

    This is something that worries me (and also that my children at some point will see my facebook page, and all the fun I had before them…it isn’t all pretty!)

    But when i was a teenager, we were all in chatrooms. Which now looking back was horrible. The things people used to ask 13 year old me, and the pictures they’d send, obviously I had absolutely no idea who they were. I think in someways social media might be safer and easier to control.

    Isn’t it strange looking back as a parent.

    #familyfun

  6. October 12, 2016 / 7:57 am

    My eldest is 11 and uses facebook to play games and chat to his friends. But I know his password and often check on what he’s up to. He is quite open with me anyway, and tells me if anything is worrying him #FamilyFun

  7. October 12, 2016 / 9:17 am

    It’s quite a scary thought isn’t it – I’m with you on being glad that my teenage years were pre-social media. The difficulty in being able to walk away from disagreements once you are out of school and have that time to pause and reflect is such a tough one. I am friends with my nieces on social media as is my sister, and I keep half an eye on what they are posting. As you say though, there is nothing to stop them creating a hidden social media account that you can’t monitor and there needs to be some degree of trust too. I don’t think there are any right answers though – we just all have to find our own way through the social media minefield. #familyfun

  8. October 12, 2016 / 10:31 am

    Our middle child is almost 8 and can work an iPad better than I can which is worrying. I only realised you can put controls on YouTube recently and had to instantly because she happened upon something rather dodge so I went into panic mode! At the moment our iPad is broken and it’s actually a blessing because otherwise we’d never get eye contact with her. She’s happy enough that it isn’t available at the moment and I’m pleased to say my children don’t seem obsessed with all things techy just yet. I guess I’ll have to control it more when she reaches secondary school. A x #FamilyFun

  9. October 12, 2016 / 11:28 am

    This is a really complicated topic that doesn’t have any clear answers! I think you’ve addressed it quite thoughtfully. I’m hoping I can teach my kids about what is and isn’t appropriate on social media, and teach them what is downright dangerous, and then try to trust them. I know from experience of being an overprotected child that this can backfire on the parent, so I do hope I can balance trust and keeping them safe. #familyfun

  10. October 12, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    Secret spying is what I will have to do…because I know how fussy can Teenagers be…I was the one :)
    However, I will be friends to them and will talk about their social media interaction as well. Rest time will tell. #FamilyFun

  11. October 12, 2016 / 4:28 pm

    Ahh this scares me so much. My boy is only 3 and I’m already worrying about the teens years and what the Internet will be like then. I would feel a bit too over protective if I were to have total access to his accounts but I would like the idea of coming with an agreement where I could check them when I ask with no arguments..just to make sure all is ok in his online world and not to be nosey! It’s a tricky one isn’t it?!xx #familyfun

  12. October 12, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    Yes a tough one and one I worry about too. Open and honest dialogue about it all I guess?

  13. October 12, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    This is something that I really worry about (even though it is a long way off at the moment). Facebook was just becoming popular when I was in my first year at university, and I cringe so much looking at some of the stuff I posted from years ago. Not that I posted any dodgy photos, but I definitely overshared how I was feeling. I can’t imagine what it might be like to have access to this stuff in your early- and mid-teens! #FamilyFun

  14. October 12, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    My babies are only 4 and 18 months old. This is something I try not to think about. I don’t even let my four year old on a tablet as I want him to enjoy imaginative play and his natural environment before he finds electronics. I know I cant restrict him for that much longer but I like it in this bubble for the time being. I started on Facebook at 17 and I see stuff on that ‘On this day’ thing from years ago and cringe. I hate how I acted and looked to people I was friends with on there. It is a very scary world and I do believe parenting is becoming increasingly harder! So to your question, I have no idea!! Hide in my bubble and hope they never find the internet haha #FamilyFun

  15. October 12, 2016 / 10:51 pm

    Personally I don’t think you can trust them. However, I also do not believe hounding their social media accounts and internet usage will help much. Teenagers are clever and determined beings and I believe all you can do if give them sound advice, support and be there ready to pick up the pieces when bad things happen. #FamilyFun

  16. October 13, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    This is very very hard. We have a 17 year old and there has been drama for several years now. We tried giving her some privacy but insisting that we remain aware and connected to all her social media accounts. It didn’t work. I think over the past three years she’s had 8 different facebook accounts, 3 twitters, and 4-5 Instagrams, plus all sorts of other crap. Taking away her phone proved ineefective because she bought 2 old phones at school that she then used and got caught with one of my older models in her room. Its been tough. I wish I had an answer for people, but we never found one. #blogginggoodtime

  17. October 13, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    this is a tough question but oh so important in today’s society!
    i believe kids will find a way to do what they want so as parents we shouldn’t condemn but rather educate them on whatever the case is and monitor them, being sure not to scold them constantly or else monitoring will be a problem and that would prevent them from being open…resulting in bigger issues! #abloggingoodtime

  18. October 13, 2016 / 4:00 pm

    Yeh this is really tricky. I’m really wary of security on the Internet and the permanence of what you write and share. I feel for those teens who have shared something in confidence only to have to abused.

    I really don’t know how I’ll manage it with my daughter. She’s not 2 yet so hopefully I’ve got a bit of time. I hope I won’t need to police her and that we can be open enough that she’ll share with me. That’s certainly what my preference would be. But only time will tell if I manage to build that type of relationship with her!

    I guess the only difference is social media was something suddenly forced into our lives. For our kids it will have always been there. Perhaps that will mean they use it in a more organic way. Definitely something I’ll keep a close eye on though! Thanks for sharing your experiences x #FamilyFun

  19. October 13, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    Such a scary subject. Internet safety is just a maze of problems and barriers with so few solutions. Our children aren’t stupid and are very much aware of how to use technology, even better than us at times, so like you said it is very easy for them to have a hidden profile. My little one is only 21 months so I can’t personally comment, but I have two nieces of two very different ages, with two very different approaches. There’s my 16 year old niece, who has facebook/instgram/snapchat – she freely accepts anyone. When uploading an average 16 year old selfie, you can imagine there are hundreds of likes, and a few comments – many of the comments from people who when you ask her who it is, she hasn’t a clue (it’s been this way for a few years now, she even made new accounts to get rid of people she didn’t know but alas). Her mum doesn’t really do much, or say much on the matter, claiming it’s out of her hands. Then there is my 10 year old niece. She is desperate for social media – as a lot of her class mates have it. However her mum is more firm. She allowed her to have snapchat and Instagram – both on private and with only friends and family. The main point, my 10 year old niece is more aware that she shouldn’t be accepting requests from people she doesn’t know (we even tested this by sending her instagram a fake account, she didn’t know it was us) and sure enough she didn’t accept. She says that some of her friends in school have lots of likes because they just accept anyone. Which to me is very worrying. Sorry to ramble and go off subject but it’s a subject that I really feel passionate about! #ablogginggoodtime

  20. October 15, 2016 / 5:08 pm

    This is such a tough one- my stepson is almost 13 and it is a problem. He is constantly on Instagram and Snapchat & as it stands we have no idea what he is writing or reading. I know there are some parents who have programmes to monitor them but I don’t think we are going to do that, although I know his mum is friends with him on IG and loosely checking what is written. I find it so scary and hope it will have calmed down a bit when Emma gets to his age, but it doesn’t look likely! xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. October 15, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    My daughter is 11 and we have has the internet safety chat a few times. We have also talked about these group chats, I am hoping she is sensible enough to always be friendly with her peers. She has instagram, but it is set to private and she only has school friends (oh and zoella lol) on there. I have told her to never accept friend requests from people she does not know. It’s a scary time.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. October 15, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    I couldn’t imagine how different my school and uni days would have been had we had Facebook at the time, instead we had Yahoo Groups and MSN Messenger. It’s good that keep a watchful eye over Internet usage, and that the trust is there. It’s one of the hard things to avoid these days, and staying away from social media is really hard, we just need to manage how they use it. Claire x #FamilyFun

  23. October 17, 2016 / 7:12 am

    Such an interesting read and having three teens I am certainly in the thick of this! I feel that keeping the lines of communication open at all times is the best way to handling a positive relationship with social media. We talk often about the rights and wrongs,. We share stories of what we have heard others doing and why we feel uncomfortable with that and why it could be inappropriate. We talk about the dangers. We talk a lot! I would never micro manage their time on social media as I try to respect their privacy but I have friends who do and their relationship wit their chi;drew isn’t as positive – I can see why they do it but trust goes both ways. Oh I could talk about this for hours! Some of my vlogs with Sarah and Jayne have also addressed this but I wonder whether I may ask them to talk about micro managing social media use. Great read my lovely #MarvMondays

  24. October 17, 2016 / 11:01 am

    It’s definitely worrying, I do wonder what platforms will be around when my boys reach their teenage years. My OH is the tech nerd of the family. So I think I’d leave it in his hands to monitor their online activity.

    Emily – Babiesandbeauty #marvmondays

  25. October 17, 2016 / 1:06 pm

    It’s a tough one as you don’t want to say no they can’t use social media and embarrass them but equally it’s such a worry. My daughter is 8 and has got into musiclly which is like Instagram but miming to videos. It’s dreadful and I hate it as purely cringey try hard kids and I worry who might watch her. So many people let their children use social media underage too and whilst I won’t stop her when she is the right age it’s trying to instil in her to take things with a pinch of salt and it’s not all it seems with filters etc and to ignore nasty comments and people. Thanks for joining #marvmondays

  26. October 19, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    It is such a tough situation but so important. My nephew is 10 and my sister and bil are already having to monitor!! Its so difficult!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime #triballove

  27. October 21, 2016 / 3:15 am

    This actually comes at the perfect time for me as my daughter s twelve and a half and will go to high school next year. In my latest post i spoke about how I am freaking out about it all! We didn’t live through the social media era when we were teens and it scares me! Bullying really worries me, I don’t want Aspen to be a bully and I don’t want her bullied. She is a very smart and super sensitive child and I hope that the values and moral I have tried mu best and will continue to role model and instil in her will be enough, but I will be watching closely that is for sure! #MarvMondays

  28. October 21, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    Popping back in at #fortheloveofBLOG, thanks so much for linking up. Claire x