Social media and my 14 year old

Karen - posted on 09/07/2015 ( 15 moms have responded )

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My daughter wants to keep her usernames, email accounts and Instagram a secret from me. Any advice on what to do?

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Jacqueline - posted on 05/18/2016

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If I can be totally vulnerable on here and speak from experience when I was 14 and Yahoo chat rooms and MySpace were the big thing. My mother let me have a computer in my bedroom, I was able to chat freely with anyone. What she didn't know is that I would meet people behind her back. My friends or I would make up a story, make it look legit, and off I went with a total stranger to a pool hall or dinner. I even had a couple pick me up from my front door!.

I am lucky nothing happened to me, or my family. I don't think any teen is capable of making sound decisions, especially if they get upset over you putting your foot down or asking to check it out thoroughly at any point in time without warning. As a parent, you can give freedom, but at the same time, they will respect you in the end for putting up those boundaries. When they get older, they will understand. But for now, just like a little baby cries, you may have to put up with a few temper tantrums.

Meredith - posted on 09/12/2015

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While I am not a fan of Social Media I am not sure I quite agree with that line of thinking....
First I think that 14 is the very youngest I would go for allowing any type of Social Media account, cell phone etc... but I think the more you force from them the more they hide so I am not sure forcing the passwords and the open book to you is going to get the result that you are looking for. I think that parenting involves trust and detective work. Let me explain..
When my children were teens this social media/ cell phone frenzy was just starting. They had instant messenger, we still had a home phone and things were a little easier to track. So what I have always believed as a parent is, that it is my job to guide them and watch over them and protect them from making any foolish or serious mistakes that could have large consequences for their future BUT at the same time teach them how to act responsible when I was not around. In order to do that you have to give them space to see what they would really do when they felt they were not being watched in order to teach and help them.
So I used to snoop a little, listen a little, read a little and if everything seemed good I stopped there. If not I investigated. If I picked up the phone and they were on it I listened a little, if I found a note I read it and if all seemed good it was fine. I got a fake messenger account and I watched things. It was a way to see what they would really do when I was not around. You can also have friends or relatives friend them and monitor what they do and let you know. You want the truth and I feel that is the way to get it, give them the freedom and you spy ... and spy just a little if everything is ok and if it is not it is your job to save them any way you can.
I don't think anyone under 14 should have social Media and I think cell phones really should wait until they are 16 but definitely not under 14. There is no reason for it. Most important we are not their friends we are their parents. Our job is not always fun but we have to teach them, look out for them and guide them and in this age of technology that is very hard. Good luck!!

Lynn - posted on 09/14/2015

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Who pays for her internet and phone bill? She may feel like it is "her account" but doesn't it really belong to the person paying for her device, data, and wifi? I think you have the authority to set the terms for her having the privileges.

Dove - posted on 09/14/2015

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You said it Sarah... 'those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing'. My girls keep logged in to their Instagram accounts on MY devices... so I go check it out and scroll through anytime I want. That is always the stipulation before allowing anything 'new'... mom gets to have any info she wants and check up on it at anytime. Now, I rarely ever check their texts and such because they pretty much TELL me everything they text (in general, at least) anyway. I scroll through their Instagram more to see what's going on in everyone's life vs. what my kids are specifically posting... lol

Sarah - posted on 09/14/2015

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An interesting and scary tangent. The local police department offers a class for parents on internet safety a few times a year. When I first went I was stunned at how easy it is to track someone through a photo. Long story made kinda not as long...there were many stories of kids lured from their homes, stalked by ex boy/girlfriends and how easy it is to do that with just a tiny amount of information.
The officer who ran the course advised having a current list of accounts with user ID and PW in the event your child goes missing. If it is a deliberate run away, those accounts often get deleted. An involuntary abduction will leave account untouched. any information that was recently posted by your child may help you find him/her. IMO you need to know what sites, and the log in info, no matter how much you trust your kids.

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Lynn - posted on 09/14/2015

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I have been having my kids (since their "Webkinz phase") keep a card file box and write their username, password, etc. on a card for each new account they set up. I honestly did it because I forget everything I don't write down so I figured that was a good habit for them. But wow safety is another super great reason to do this!!

Priscille - posted on 09/14/2015

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I spend a lot of time on social media for my work. Not so much for personal life, but a little as well. I know quite a few platforms pretty well.

For teenagers today this is really the way they communicate and interact with each other. This is the world they are in and most of the time, if they don't have access to it, they are just left out of whatever hip thing is going on. Having said that, I wouldn't recommend much earlier than 14 to be on social media. The legal age to use facebook is 13 anyway.

Personally I wouldn't recommend blocking internet access because it is such so easy to have access those days that they can easily find a way to get a connection. Not allowing them to have accounts will result in the same, they'll find a way to have one and hide it from you. Not because they are devious or anything... just because they want to fit in with their time.

Spying on the side is also a little bit extreme for me as I believe that an honest and an open relationship will always yield more result.

She doesn't have to share her username and password with you for you to know what is going on in her accounts. Personally, what I would do as a parent is to get myself on social media too and insist on being connected with her and that she keeps you in the loop of what she is posting and sharing. That way, you can also see what is going on. Don't interfere too much, by liking or commenting, as she will probably not like that much. But that doesn't prevent you to have a conversation with her if you feel that she isn't posting appropriate content or comments.

Prevention goes also a long way in helping them not getting in trouble. The basics that they shouldn't connect with people they don't know in real life or not give private details of where they are going to be in public posts and the like have to be reinforced often. But also also being careful to post respectful things. Share with her the story of Justine Sacco's post that caused her to be booed worldwide for one little tweet that was only intended as a joke. She didn't even have a huge network. These things can happen to anyone and this is why it is important to talk about it with our teenagers in a way that they can hear it.

Today's children live in a technological world that we haven't. They were born with it and are at ease with it. And there are ways for us to join them there without being invasive or too much on their back.

Karen - posted on 09/14/2015

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I wouldn't ask for passwords. I'm only asking for usernames and what sites she is currently using. Sorry if I wasn't clear. She won't give me anything

Vidya - posted on 09/14/2015

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Funny this topic comes up again because i just was reading on another thread about teen technology issues!
I have to agree with Meredith. You have to trust them and also set some rules. In my case, it is these -- facebook at 16 only, only one photo-sharing app, only one type of messenger (whatsapp) etc. But asking for passwords is a bit invasive and i wouldnt do it. Kids are smart, and they know how to work around rules if the rules get too restrictive.
I also use this android app called EyzUp that monitors and generates reports on how much time is spent on each app or game. But although the app allows parents to monitor and set limits for their kids' mobiles, I only ask them to set their own limits. So self-policing, and it works!

Sarah - posted on 09/13/2015

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I am curious why your daughter wants to keep her user names etc private? Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

Suzanne - posted on 09/07/2015

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No way
In my house I have three Boys ages 17-13-9mos the rule stands you get online I get every username and password or you loose ALL of you internet devices. ....
Their father strongly backs me up

Karen - posted on 09/07/2015

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Thanks Jodi - I want her to be able to have a "normal" teenage life, whatever "normal" means these days, but I also want to keep her safe. I will definitely use the "well I won't give you the wifi password."

Jodi - posted on 09/07/2015

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Great, then you can keep your wifi password from her, along with her phone and her computer access. That works!

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