How Much Monitoring Is Too Much For Your Tweens And Social Media?

tweens and social media

Welcome to Tween and Teen Tuesdays at MyCrazyGoodLife.com! Today we’re talking about tweens and social media.

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Instagram.

Facebook.

Even Twitter.

Tweens and teens are all over these social media sites right now.

But do you know there are other sites and apps they might use that you don’t know about?

Voxer? Snapchat? Anything with a text, picture or voice messaging feature?

Not only should you be aware of these sites, but you should be familiar with them so you can keep tabs on your child. Look over their shoulder, so to speak.

Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve skimmed through hundreds of messages going back and forth between kids. I get it. I promise.

It’s tedious. Painful, actually. Reading through hundreds of messages that have no actual content.

Text

But what if you don’t do it? What if in this digital age, you give your child a phone, or iPod touch, or smartphone and they run with it? What if they make poor choices and act the total opposite of how they were raised to and nobody knew?

It’s like having a sleepover at your house where the kids are misbehaving and you let it go because they’re behind a closed door.

Doesn’t work for long. Eventually you’re going to find out what’s going on in the room. Someone will tell you – maybe the neighbor, or the parent of one of the kids who was there – and you’ll be blindsided.

I promise you. It’ll happen.

Tweens and social media

Voxer is a chat app where you can record a message for someone and they can play it instantly (kind of like a walkie-talkie) or later on. Trust me, listening to these is worse than skimming through texts. It’s time consuming and heaven forbid you lose your place or the app quits – there’s nothing to  let you know where you left off. But things said on voice messages need to be held to the same standard that text messages (and photos) are. The only way to be sure your kids are upholding the values you have taught them is to check.

Tweens and social media

Snapchat. Oh, Snapchat. This app was allowed for a very short time in my house. Kids take a photo, send it to a friend, and the friend opens it. Oh yeah, you can only view it for up to 10 seconds (the sender can decide) before it’s gone forever. What could happen in 10 seconds? What’s so bad about Snapchat?

How about a mean message sent from a bully? A child can see it for 2 seconds, but the scars it leaves are forever. Or how about an inappropriate picture? Yes, let’s talk about that for a second. A child (see how I’m not saying a girl… it could happen to anyone) sends an inappropriate picture to another child and deems they can view it for 5 seconds before it’s gone forever. Except… the receiving child knows about the magic of a screenshot. Captured. Snapchat will notify the sender that a screenshot has been taken, but how about if the photo is taken with a friend’s phone? Or an old fashioned camera? Bad decisions will forever reside on the internet. The fact that I can’t look at what he’s been doing in Snapchat means it’s not allowed in this house.

So, how much monitoring is too much? How much is not enough? It’s hard to say. I’ll tell you what we do, though.

We skim. We listen. We look, and we click. This all comes with a big rule. A really big rule (that is sometimes really hard to uphold):

We don’t tattle.

If Suzy decides to send a text full of swear words and even some inappropriate stuff about her parents or little sister, and our kid answers with a :), it’s not our issue. We’re not going to call Suzy’s parents and tattle (though we really, really want to). We’re not going to tell them she is saying things she may later regret, or dipping her toe into saying inappropriate things to a boy. Our purpose is to make sure our child is safe. That’s it.

Can I say it again? Sometimes this is really hard to uphold.

The reason you should be monitoring your child on social media is to make sure they’re safe. They need to trust you like you need to trust them, and if you’re calling everyone’s parents in his contact list, you’re not earning his trust.

The same rule goes for when Michael comes to talk to us about a situation that involves other kids.

Sam is smoking after school and offers him one. We tell him how to have the “I don’t want one” conversation and let Sam’s parents deal with Sam. Michael knows he can talk to us about anything and knows that we aren’t concerned about the other child – to be honest, 99% of the time we don’t even ask the other child’s name.

So, phone = bad.

iPod Touch = bad.

Smartphone = bad.

Right?

No. Not even close. There are good apps out there – great ones, even. I’ve even written about them.

Your kids will eventually have these devices in their hands. Teach them how to use them instead of avoiding them altogether.

What’s going on with your tweens and social media? I’d love to learn about what goes on in your house.


Comments

  1. The “No Tattling” rule is an interesting one that I haven’t seen talked about online very much. Thanks for bringing it up – I think you make a good point that parents are responsible for their child and not made police of the world. I like it, but I would definitely break that rule for anything indicating that a child may be in trouble or engaging in dangerous behavior, and I really hope other parents would do the same for my child. You now have me thinking about how the smoking fits in, because that can be a dangerous behavior, too. ARGH! Another tricky parenting conundrum. Thankfully I can say that I’ll cross that bridge when we come to it (hopefully never). Great, thought-provoking post!

    • Oh, I know Shannan. It’s a tough one. The smoking hasn’t happened here yet, so maybe it wasn’t the best example to use (I wanted to keep the real life examples off of the blog). Thankfully we haven’t had too much to deal with, but there have definitely been a couple of times my husband has had to talk me down from calling and remind me of our rule.

  2. Ugh parenting tweens and teens is harder than taking care of newborn babies. At least with babies you know they need to be changed, fed and held. Simple. Parenting tweens drives me carazy sometimes. Always wondering if I am reacting the right way or doing the right things when it comes to things like technology. I do trust Clever Tween and I scope the messages once in a while and educate her on situations and what to do but I am one of those worrywort moms. Always wondering…what if. All I can do is trust her and keep the lines of convo open and pray she will always make the right decisions. I will be honest though, we aren’t on FB yet. I just feel while she’s in school, she doesn’t need another distraction and she can see her friends and text them. This summer we will talk about it.
    On a side note I’ve never said I would contact a parent but I have requested she stop talking to a certain someone or I would go down to the school and have a talk with them myself.

  3. Oh yes. Actually, I tell Michael all the time, “this is the first time I’ve had a 12 year old son, so I’m making mistakes too here.”

    It totally gets harder. :(

  4. La la la, I didn’t need to hear that it is going to get harder. My 6 year old and 18mth old have a long way to go before they get phones although there is a classmate of the 6 year old with one!

    • I was just telling Karen (desertchicaramblings.com) today that by the time your littles are to this stage, who knows what you’ll have to deal with! Things are changing so quickly now!

  5. Addie asked for a pinterst account last night. I know why she wants it, she wants duct tape ideas. But there is way to many things on there she doesn’t need to see.

    For Imessage and Face Time on her IPOD, it all goes through my email address, so I can see it all

    • I’m trying this new software called Cocoon – its a web filter for kids. I don’t know about Pinterest, but maybe that could give her the freedom to look for duct tape ideas by herself? I’ll let you know what I think of it!

  6. Oh how times change :)

    I love that my kids have phones, but I don’t think we will do smart phones for them. Just too many risks for me right now. We have similar rules, but the no tattling rule is one I will have to think about…especially with Tim.

    • I’m not thrilled about Michael having a smartphone, Kellyn, but we are learning as much as he is right now. Every day brings something new.

      The no tattling rule isn’t for everyone, and of course we would change it for dangerous situations, but to be honest, our concern is Michael – not the 100 other tweens in his school who are doing inappropriate things. It sounds awful when I say it, but it’s the truth.

      • Doesn’t sound awful, actually very smart. If there was something serious, it trumps it but you can’t monitor every other child when you main concern is your own, I do agree with it :)

  7. Kik. That is one that my brother (15) uses and gets in trouble with constantly. Basically all you need is a user name and then you can text any other user name you want. Send pictures, text, and the worst part is that there is no friend request accepting. If they know/find your user name they can immediately text you. Of course you can block them afterwards but like you said the scarring can last.

  8. I definitely think you’re onto something with the “no tattling” rule. That would have made me feel safer, as a child, if I needed to tell my parents something. The last thing kids want to do is be known as a snitch or lose the trust of their friends and parents. Great tips, Becca!

  9. I do not envy you… parenting around social media is a mine field. Tattling vs Trust…. I’m with Shannon re: safety/danger issues but I like “I’m raising you” as an entree into their lives. I was known to take action…. this would have been a good phrase to have incorporated into my own parenting. How lucky your boys are to have such great parents :)
    a/b

    • It’s not easy – I didn’t expect this at all when we had Michael. We didn’t have cell phones then!

      We could go crazy trying to fix the world’s problem children – our focus (with a definite exception for dangerous behaviors) is Michael. It may take a lot of reminders some days, but that’s what important to us.

      Thank you :)

  10. I’m so thankful my teen and I have a very option communication relationship. I know that’s not always the case in families. She shares with me the new apps that teens love and I tell her about the ones I discover. Trust is such an important factor in topics like these. It took me a long time to be okay with my teen on twitter more because I was worried about the strangers than I was worried about her activity.

    • We haven’t jumped into Twitter yet – I am having a hard enough time keeping up with Facebook and Instagram, along with the apps like Voxer. I agree with being worried about other people more on that platform. And location services – I didn’t even touch those waters. An open relationship is SO important with teens!

  11. I have two teen girls (17 & 13) and one tween girl (11) and only the oldest two have iPhones and use social media. One of the rules to using is that I need to be their friend, know usernames & passwords, and if I don’t like something it’s removed immediately. They understand and follow the rules because they know they loose all those privileges if they don’t.
    My tween has asked for an account but the answer is always no. She is simply to young.
    Social media and the internet are difficult to constantly monitor as a parent.

    • Those are awesome rules, Jackie – especially the one about removing posts. And I agree- social media and the internet are my number one concerns at this point!

    • I’m sorry, Jessica! If it makes you feel better, I bet it’ll be easier to monitor these things in a few years… but there will most likely be more issues in it’s place :-/

  12. We are no where near this yet, but it is already on my mind. We will definitely have rules in place from the beginning. I’m hoping our children will feel comfortable enough to be open and share with us without too much prying on our parts.

  13. Addie’s Apple ID is my Apple ID so I can see all her texts on my computer, it’s annoying sometimes, but it works, I have told other parents that at 8:15 she’s not allowed to FT or message. That way it doesn’t appear we are rating the kids out for doing it after bedtime, just letting our bedtime be known. That said FT is great for Homework help and she Imessages with my friends daughters who live in Cananda and New Zealand

  14. I look forward to these years with much trepidation. I was introduced to snapchat this summer by my 18 year old sister. Let me just say I was not impressed. Some of these apps are nothing more than recipes for trouble. Beside that fact it trains its users in the art of narcissism–primping every 10 seconds for a new selfie.
    I know things will change in the 6 years or so til I have to worry about things like this with my now 6 year old, but it is really helpful to read your posts and start forming ideas now.

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