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Welcome to Tween and Teen Tuesdays at MyCrazyGoodLife.com! Today we’re talking about tweens and social media.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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I do not monitor. It would be impossible. My older two (15, 16) didn’t get smartphones until 9th and 8th grade. My tween has a tablet and I ask him what he is watching and look at the screen but there’s just no way I can humanly possibly monitor everything they are doing on their devices. I’d need some sort of artificial intelligence solution to do that. It’s not to say I don’t discuss with them appropriate electronic and social behaviors and potential consequences — we do that a lot. But monitoring would be more than a full-time job in itself!