AIBU to be really angry and a bit confused as to how to handle this?(16 Posts)
My son is 12 on Monday. (this is not the issue, though I do now feel ancient)
He has been asking for a facebook account for the last 2/3 years, mainly because my brother very helpfully said that my nephew could have one when he was 9. That was his choice but not something I thought appropriate for my son. As you can probably imagine, my son has never been happy with this decision..
My son has had some issues over the past year. We haven't had an easy relationship and he went through a phase of stealing money from me (ranged from pennies to £40!) and all the time he would be raging about the lack of privacy he had, my answer to this has always been that he cannot expect me to trust him when he keeps giving me reasons not to!!
He has his own (admittedly small) bedroom and because I am self employed money has been a bit sporadic but we agreed that he ought to have pocket money and a bit of privacy so I got him a little phone, decided on £5 a week pocket money (as long as he tows the line) and that I would create a facebook account for him for his birthday.
I found out yesterday though that his friend made him a secret facebook account and he has been posting some pretty coarse language on it. Its only been on for 24 hours but I am not a fb friend and I can see the statuses..
"my fucking life is shit"
"stupid fucking scar"
I am a) really pissed off that hes gone behind my back and b) more than a bit concerned that his teachers etc might stumble across it.
I KNOW he is nearly a teen, I get that I need to give him a little freedom but this is really hard, I really don't want to go off at the deep end (I have been known to but really it is just the utter frustration and bemusement - last month for example he had a weird smell in his room. I kept asking him to figure out what it was.. he denied all knowledge. Got a knock on the door from next door neighbour asking me whether I knew that there was a really Mouldy sandwich on the roof of my conservatory.. guess who had chucked it out of his window..)
Anyway, give me a hand please x He is due back from his sleepover at his mates shortly and I could just do with a few opinions if you will x
Need to sit him down and talk about this. Personally I would cancel his account and only agree to a new one if he behaves in a few weeks time. Plus I would demand that I am his friend on Facebook and if he abuses it with foul language then it is cancelled again .
I would let him have an account provided he gives you access to it either via adding you as a friend or giving you the password.
Both mine had accounts at 12 and now 3 years later the novity has worn off and they hardly bother posting and most of their chat is via skype.
If he has internet access he can create a facebook account completely without your knowledge. Many, many teenagers out there have two accounts - one fit for parental perusal and one they use among themselves.
You're left with several options on how to deal with this:
Limit his internet access and monitor his usage.
Have several long chats about internet safety and the wisdom of posting stuff that may seem harmless to his 12-year-old self but which could come back to haunt him in years to come. There are innumerable scare stories out there you can use to prove your point. Remind him that inappropriate pictures could end up with him being on the sex offenders register, bad language could get him barred from certain groups, any kind 'hate' language - even as part of a joke - could later prevent him from accessing many careers. Lay it on thick and remind him that once he's put something out there, it's out there forever - long after he's taken it down it can be found by others searching online.
The ideal approach IMO is a balance between the two, reducing your restrictions and monitoring as you can see he is taking it more seriously.
What fridayfreedom said.
Also I'd ask him to think about what really constitutes a 'shit' life - eg living with abuse, alcoholic parent, etc, and then tell him to stop complaining. Kids and teens still need to behave in an acceptable manner - I don't hold with all this 'what can you expect, he's a teenager' stuff.
Tbh, I wouldn't get too stressed about it. His behaviour is annoying but a mouldy sandwich and petty pilfering isn't a life of crime. And although it's not what you'd like, it's not the sort of behaviour that signals big problems. He's just being a bit of a pain.
My DSs are now 17 & 20, but I well remember them being 12. They're just starting their teens, and the key task at that age is to start separating from you. As a counsellor said to me "It's biology. If teenagers were as sweet and easy as little children they'd never leave home. They need to be hard work, they need to push us away, to establish themselves as adults."
I found that advice very useful. Your DSs demands for privacy are signs of his need to separate from you. His body is changing, he'll want privacy to masturbate. Back in the day you changed his nappies, now he sees himself as a man, and he's bound to be defensive.
I really wouldn't worry too much. The FB business is always tricky. If I'd insisted on seeing everything on my DSs' FB pages, I'd be certain they had two -- one they used, and one for me. Adding you as a friend is a possibility, because they can private message people without you seeing, but you still get an overview of what's going on. As the other poster said, FB is a phase. My DSs now only use it for social stuff. It's not their life. Don't worry too much, Cocacolamum.
Yeah I do understand he needs to break away a bit but there is a massive difference between having a bit of space and being out and out deceptive and then using anti social language. Don't get me wrong, we use bad language but because we use computers a lot here we have always tried to show the dcs that what they put out there is what the world sees of them.
Yes, CocacolaMum, totally get you on making sure your kids are aware that what you put on line stays there and may come back to haunt you. We've talked about that. Quite a lot. I think all you can do is bring it up repeatedly. Oh what fun it is to be a parent!
It's getting them to understand that only idiots incriminate themselves online. I tried to make it amusing: proposing the trajectory of a kid who poses on FB in his early teens with a foot long spliff and 20 years on puts himself forward as an MP... And then, inevitably, the piccy resurfaces...
And there are true stories about kids arrested for gun crime who are then shown to have posed with those guns on FB! Lovely extreme example that makes the point & makes 'em laugh.
My advice was never to put anything, particularly a recognisable image, online that you wouldn't want your Grandma to see. And don't write anything that could get you in trouble - with me, the college, the cops, etc...
FB isn't a problem but you should insist on being their friend as well. It is a great way for young people to share and communicate. There is a learning curve however and he should quickly realise that it's OK to say some things and he will regret other things.
I tend to leave the 'keep me logged in' button checked which means I can have a good snoop from time to time. It has helped when things got out of hand - there are so many young people with warped views out there and they need perspective. He is still your child, you have to look after him, but you want him to feel he has some freedom with his friends.
Give him autonomy, but make sure he doesn't regret the things he says and does.
If he's being really deceptive you have to be smarter! He's your child - take control and be effective. Double question him if need be. Make sure he knows that lying to his mother is the biggest sin of them all.
You need to be tough or you will have much bigger problems than this in a couple of years. I would screenshot the FB profile to prove to thim that you know, and then come down on him like a ton of bricks. The minimum age for FB is 13 and he's just showed you he's not mature enough to have an account this soon. So retract that offer for his 12th birthday, contact FB to get the other profile taken down, and do not allow him internet access in his bedroom, only in the shared parts of the house.
Well I have spoken to him. I say spoken.. I bloody well told him off. I pointed out the implications of over sharing online and the reasons why I would not agree to him having a fb account previously.
I told him that while I WANTED to give him the freedom to have privacy and see his friends and effectively grow up a bit etc it seems to me that every time I try to do it, he goes ahead and gives me reasons to keep treating him as a child instead.
He started to say that he was just in a bad mood all of the time because of the way the other kids treat him and that's why he takes it out on me. I said that while I understood that it can happen, its not an excuse to do it all the time. Why should I put up with his shitty attitude?
The way he sees it he is hard done by because he just doesn't have the gadgets his mates have.. I said that may be so but he has a lot more than some. He has his phone (I got him it as an early birthday pressie along with a sim only contract which I told him I would pay), he has a DS (which he trashed by keeping it under his pillow), an MP3 player for music, an MP4 player which his Dad puts films/tv progs on when asked and access to a laptop (downstairs only).. I had a clock sodding radio when I was his age!!!
I also said that I wasn't sorry he doesn't (for example) have a Tv in his room because I believe that things like that ARE a big deal and should be earnt.
end result of this was that he has stomped off to his room saying that this is why he cannot talk to me because I just blame him. Well yeah. When its his bloody fault I will blame him. Grrr!!!
I have told him that he is on a 24 hour ban from his phone and I want him to think about what HE can do to help himself AND I want him to write me a letter tomorrow detailing it all because if he cannot talk to me then we need a new method of communication and since I cannot trust him with technology its back to the pen.
I second the being their friend on FB solving all your problems idea- I've just had a 15 year old move in with me and was told horror stories by other parents I know about some of the things they'd posted on FB, so I got her to make me an account and we 'became friends.' No issues whatsoever so far, she's been very sensible- possibly because she knows I'm watching her
As far as being miserable because he doesn't have as many gadgets as his friends, tell him to suck it up and deal with it. My foster DD doesn't have a phone/ipod/laptop/TV in her room etc and she's almost 16, though I have told her if she behaves herself and revises hard for her GCSEs over easter I'll get her a mobile for her birthday. So for a 12 year old he's not doing too badly. Absolutely stand firm, don't let him try and guilt trip you.
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