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How can I best advise my DD on dealing with social cliques and social media at secondary school?

(107 Posts)
OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 00:35:41

This is more an Am I being unreasonably concerned (and sorry for the long post!).

When my DD left junior for secondary last September she was a very happy, bright, creative and slightly eccentric girl with a lot of friends. Until recently I’d got the impression that things were continuing as normal at secondary school, but I had a rather worrying conversation with her today.

Since starting the Spring term she has become rather pale, grumpy and emotional. Me and my DH initially put it down to hormones, but today she (and her best friend) really opened up about the pressure they feel under to be popular at school and, in particular, on Instagram. It really threw me and I’m worried that this is only going to get worse.

My DD is in a class with her best friend from junior school, but there is a large, dominant group of girls there from another school, who seem to lord it over the rest of them and whom everyone seems to want approval from, including the boys. This on its own I could offer advice on, as I remember it happening at times in my school, but now it comes with a whole other strata of pressure from Instagram as well.

My DD and her friend follow these girls on Instagram and they have three times the followers my DD has and get hundreds more likes and many comments etc. Just writing this is making me think how ridiculous it is, as it’s not real life, but I’m not a 12 year old girl in 2019 and I really don’t think telling her to just come off Instagram is the answer, as she would be known as that girl who’s no longer on Instagram etc.

My maim worry is that, until now, my DD was the sort of person who was so above this sort of rubbish, but that it’s just so pervasive and overwhelming at secondary level that she’s going to end up being some sort of compromised and watered down version of herself just so she can ‘fit in’, in real life and on social media.

Instagram is such a recent phenomenon and I just wondered if there were any mums out there whose DDs were currently navigating it or who had ‘come out the other side’ who could perhaps offer me some advice, reassurance or anecdotes I could pass on to my DD!

SadSackStruggling Sun 31-Mar-19 00:43:26

Watching with interest.
Sorry I can't offer any advice at all. We're currently going through a very similar situation.
One thing we have done is to not let DD have her phone at all times and to put social media time restrictions on.
In primary she and her brother were allowed a couple of hours of gaming time per week. We've insisted on similar restrictions with her phone so she isn't looking at Instagram constantly.

Having said that, she too is struggling with wanting the popularity and attention that some of the others have.

MandyFl0ss Sun 31-Mar-19 02:24:43

Also watching with interest. I feel that handing phones over when they get home from school, then maybe checking an hour later for 10 minutes max, and that's it until the morning is one way to monitor what's going on as the kids' mood can change dramatically depending on what they see on instagram.

agnurse Sun 31-Mar-19 06:14:08

If it's going to be a problem you can definitely restrict her access.

Instagram is not essential to life. If it's creating problems, maybe she doesn't need a smartphone.

Headinabook85 Sun 31-Mar-19 06:57:19

Watching with interest. I am a secondary teacher and have nothing new to add. It's so sad!

One hundred percent agree with PP on setting limits on phone use and no phones in bedrooms overnight.

MsTSwift Sun 31-Mar-19 07:04:29

Bless her. All you can do is try to build her confidence in herself and remove phone as often as you can certainly from 8pm every night. Mine is year 8 and seems to be happy isn’t in the Uber popular group but the next clique down of normal girls seems happy. It’s a girls school so no boys to show off to though don’t know if that’s better or worse. Frankly early secondary is tough for most people remember myself

cloudymelonade Sun 31-Mar-19 07:08:33

Not a mum of teenagers but I work with young girls around that age and find they do often let me in on a little more than they would their parents.

Unfortunately... there isn't a lot you can do about it other than grin and bear it and hope that your DD is confident and clever enough to be able to navigate what is right and what is wrong.

A couple of things that might help though from experience-
What exactly is it that she is feeling the pressure of? Help her to 'curate' her Instagram feed so that it's not just full of things that make her feel bad.
For example, if her whole insta feed is skinny models and celebrities with airbrushed photos, she may be feeling bad about her looks. Find some cool plus size bloggers like Callie Thorpe or Danielle Vanier and suggest she follows them.

I've also found through work that the kids who are part of some kind of quite full on hobby like a theatre group or sports team that practise often seem to be a lot less intensely involved in social media, they're more bothered about using it to communicate with their club friends.

& if it makes you feel any better, 'social media cleanses' or 'detoxes' or 'self care breaks' are very fashionable at the minute! I'm noticing even the younger ones seem to be doing it to fit in with what all the celebs are doing

MsTSwift Sun 31-Mar-19 07:30:58

The sport thing is great advice dd plays a team sport and loves it an activity you enjoy “takes you out of yourself” and builds confidence. Plus in her case she’s met another group of friends - the private school set who are friendly and inclusive but their instagrams are mental we have a giggle about the numerous 5 star holidays to Dubai India and New York !

Mosschopz Sun 31-Mar-19 07:40:32

I’m a pastoral senior leader in a high school and have seen the problems with SM increase in Year 7/8 in recent years. Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat seem to be the main platforms for unpleasantness - particularly between girls. They can’t handle it at this age and I think the fact we see loads of issues in the early High School years and virtually none by Year 9 underlined the need for the ‘over 13’ controls that most SM have.

We invited the worst offenders in, discussed the issues of vulnerability with parents and got the girls to delete the app from their phones. Of course it’s a symbolic gesture but after we’d discussed bullying, stress, sleeplessness and the potential for grooming, both parent and child were happy to engage and stay off SM until 13.

SlaaartyBaaardFaaast Sun 31-Mar-19 07:46:42

I am watching with interest, too. Have an 11 yr old about to start secondary. He has a phone and has only just been given minutes, data, etc. The rest of his yr 6 class have had this for at least a yr... we held back until now. However, I have set up multiple parent control/restrictions on it... just as we do all other electronic media. We have a great app on it called Qustudio. This has enabled me to block all social media. Firstly, the law is age 13 and secondly, its a safety net until that time comes. We also have time restrictions set of 1 hr max usage per day. He also has to hand it over at 6:30pm each night and cannot ever take it into his bedroom alone. I am very strict about these things but we do live in a demanding era of peer pressure from so many sources.

I am interested to hear how we handle the whole 'likes, comments' and maybe even bullying side of social media before the time comes. He - like most tweenagers/teens - is keen for approval and to 'fit in'.

Lots of luck OP flowers

GnomeDePlume Sun 31-Mar-19 07:50:25

I second the suggestion of another interest outside school and have also recommended it to others.

For my DDs it was the local authority music school. Lots of different things to try from choirs, different instruments to a rock school.

For my DS it was Army Cadets.

What this gave them was a different group of friends. Also we found these groups really 'got' young people and didnt tolerate bullying.

Poppyputthekettleon Sun 31-Mar-19 07:52:29

She doesn't have to delete her account but I would suggest you suggest to her that she has a break from it and uninstalling the app from her phone for a trial period so she can see if she is happier for not being on it. There are loads of articles and blog posts about people quitting Instagram and feeling happier for it get her to read these. I myself as a grown woman found I was competing for popularity on Instagram and chasing likes etc. I'm so much more content now I dont have the app. By not deleting but just not uploading anymore she's not the girl who isn't on Instagram she's the girl who is too busy in real life to have time to post on Instagram.

Hamsterdancer Sun 31-Mar-19 07:54:25

My dd had this problem and like others have said I made sure she had limited screen time. She got to a point with it she started self harming and her behaviour was awful to the point I took her phone away for a few weeks and gave her my old brick for when she was out.

She has now in year 9 decided (without any prompts from me I use sm) decided lifes to short for social media and took herself off it last year and hasn't looked back. The change in her is amazing. She actually seems to have friends now and has got very into art. I did get lots of calls from worried children that something had happened to her as she didn't announce she was giving it up or even tell me she just deleted it. Her close friends text or call her now and the most she uses her phone for is music and YouTube.

Shes a rare case I think though she says only one other person in her year is the same. So personally limiting phone use is probably more useful which is what will happen when my other two move up to the 7.

BoobiesToTheRescue Sun 31-Mar-19 07:59:32

I have a son the same age.
Year 7 is fucking brutal. The stuff we are going through right now. My poor pfb.

Thankfully he doesn't have Instagram. He screwed that up good and proper when he accidentally made my phone number public and I hit the roof, he will not be trusted with Instagram again until he's in his 50's.

That doesn't stop the cliques and issues at school though, there's still lads who think they are hard and want to challenge my son.

My son is very tall and going out with a girl in the year above and I think these lads feel like they need to bring him down a peg.
It's horrible and a daily battle and I worry about him all the time. There's been tears and fears.

I wish I could advise you. ☹️

MrPickles73 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:07:36

Our DS is 5. One of the nursery teachers who has 2 sons In their 20s said make sure he has a good hobby. It will help him through the teenage years. Other people have mentioned this above.
One of the kids in my 8 year Olds class now has a phone. Arrg.

floribunda18 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:14:05

What other activities does she do? She needs to get out more so that life isn't all only school and social media. It puts things into perspective.

Everyone has friendship and confidence issues at secondary school, it's part of growing up and becoming more independent.

TheHumbleHawthorn Sun 31-Mar-19 08:22:43

Unfortunately... there isn't a lot you can do about it other than grin and bear it and hope that your DD is confident and clever enough to be able to navigate what is right and what is wrong

I disagree - I think it's our duty as parents to show our children how to be confident and guide them into deciding what's right and wrong.

DD (14) and I have had many chats about how great the internet is - she loves make-up tutorials on YouTube! - but also how downright daft or harmful it can be.

We talk about why would you need to get your sense of self-worth from the number of likes people give you? Don't give them that power!

If you are going to a party, don't post a pouty full length photo hoping people will say you're gorg or peng - get your self worth from your reflection! Don't give others the opportunity to post "your (sic) ugly"

DD was hurt a couple of times when she saw on Snapchat that friends had done things without her. I empathised and it's led to discussions about the ever changing nature of friendships and dealing with our feelings (I'm still working on that one as an adult smile)

exLtEveDallas Sun 31-Mar-19 08:26:32

DD has had an Instagram account since Y6. It has always been linked to my email so I have full access. At the start she had limited time on it and I always encouraged her to post photos of 'things' rather than herself (the dog, sunsets, 'arty' trees/flowers etc). When she moved to Y7 she was appalled at how many selfies and provocative poses her friends posted and remains the same now in Y9. She gets a lot of comments on the most simple of pics.

She self regulates now and whilst her screen time has grown, her posts haven't changed (I've just looked now and in the last few weeks she's only posted one photo of herself with our dog).

She's had a few 'near misses' with nasty kids, but has immediately disengaged and blocked that person - no second chances with DD! She's had a lot of self doubt, the same as any teen girl I expect, but I've always dealt with it with gentle teasing and laughing at the perfect duck faces, the impossible filtering and the posting for likes. She only posts nice comments herself, even to kids who have been horrible to her (in fact in some cases she'll purposely seek them out and post a "Gorjus hun" (I know, shoot me...) to deflect - it's hard to be nasty when someone is publicly being nice to you.

She's in 3 after school sports clubs which helps I think - it's hard to be "on fleek" when you are hot and sweaty.

But don't dismiss the power of hormones for moods. It won't be all about the SM. You can set a clock by DD's mood - what is the end of the world today won't even be considered a week later.

TheHumbleHawthorn Sun 31-Mar-19 08:28:48

I agree how important an out of school hobby is for teens. DD trains and competes with her sports team but there is still a lot of SM activity between her team mates - it really is inescapable!

Theworldisfullofgs Sun 31-Mar-19 08:35:46

My dd had a horrible time in year 8. She was bullied horribly particularly via Instagram. It's good your dd is talking to you.
Keep her talking.
What helped. Getting a hobby that had nothing to do with school.
Really keeping an eye on Instagram- she came off it for a little while, think she deleted her account.
We also talked about what she wanted for the future - how gor these girls this is the peak of their lives and she had a choice of letting by his define her or getting on with shaping her future. She also had a couple of aunts who were happy to listen. Sometimes it was helpful having someone who wasnt her mum. School helped too.

She came out the other side. In the long run it probably did her a favour. She realised how shallow it all was and worked really hard and has got on with her life. It was really worrying at the time and all you can do is really is keep talking and help your dd gain perspective on it.

NoTNoShade Sun 31-Mar-19 08:38:22

I also agree with activities out of school being really important. Last week, my dd went to play football tournament at another secondary and saw about five girls she knew from her out of school activities.

I also think it's good to expand their worlds. Go to other cities. Go to galleries, sculpture parks. Go to comic-con! Show her that the world is bigger than that group of girls.

SmallFastPenguin Sun 31-Mar-19 08:39:24

My dd is quite shy in general but has lovely friends, she is better socially than megrin I asked her how she does it once and she said if someone makes her feel a bit uncomfortable even though they are seemingly nice she doesn't try to make friends, only with people she feels relaxed and can be herself with.
On SM she just likes to have an instagram account to see what others are posting and chat with friends in a group, but its under a false name and she never posts anything. I didn't make her do that she is just very private, but it does keep her safe from bullies.

BedraggledBlitz Sun 31-Mar-19 08:44:20

This is awful. My son is only 4 so I'm not there yet. But I know as a 40 year old how sm can affect mental health. I deleted my own account. I'm listening to the good advice here.

Best wishes OP

Ratatouille76 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:46:50

Oh God. My very small dd will be starting year 7 in September. The secondary she is going to is massive, shes currently at a tiny village primary. She has a phone but has no interest in Instagram and thinks its ridiculous but Im sure that will change. I'm dreading year 7 she's so happy at the moment.

Ratatouille76 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:47:19

Sorry meant she doesn't have Instagram, or tiktok or snapchat.

MsTSwift Sun 31-Mar-19 08:50:57

We banned Instagram but it was not sustainable as all the other parents had given in so dd was the only one not on it she felt left out, would cry and wrote us letters about it so we caved. This is not an easy age to parent. Meet parents with little kids who merrily insist they just won’t allow phones or social media it’s not as simple as that.

Ratatouille76 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:52:19

Yes it's easier when they are little! All my daughters friends have Instagram and she's still not bothered thinks its stupid.

Cozytoesandtoast00 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:53:04

Great advice.
I'm watching with interest as I have a 9 year old and have concerns about this in her future.
I think children need lots of guidance and reassurance and a way of depersonalising themselves from it. SM can be very damaging and support in this area is important.

GreenTulips Sun 31-Mar-19 08:55:42

Not sure what the issue is here?

What is she upset about?

Is it that she doesn’t ‘on paper’ have as much popularity as the other girls?

TheHumbleHawthorn Sun 31-Mar-19 08:57:43

Rat - a large secondary school can be great - provides a much wider pool of friends to choose from.

And please don't be alarmed by what you hear about SM. Most kids are perfectly nice, you just have to help your kids navigate the teenage years like we had to smile

Decormad38 Sun 31-Mar-19 09:03:07

Dd is 13 on Instagram. They don’t use Facebook anymore. Got an older dd 19 who struggled enormously with it all at school. She is at uni now and never responds to any messages and I think that is because she hated it so much at school. Younger dd has noticed other girls being deleted out of pictures by not very nice girls and has shown me. It can be used as a tool for bullying. Plus lots of girls posting party pics but if they are not invited to the party then it’s crushing. Dd seems to be more resilient this year than last. They now have a rule when she meets her friends that all phones go in the middle of the table and they talk with each other and don’t touch their phones.

Springisallaround Sun 31-Mar-19 09:03:13

Mine both had a rocky time in Year 7 finding friends, shifting groups and it wasn't just to do with Insta but just general hormones, friendship problems.

They have had to come to terms though with not being hugely popular- I think in their heads at 11/12 was this idea that the more people you know, and the more you seem cool (or whatever term they use, it isn't cool) then the better your life would be. They've had to work out that having one or two good friends is better than being super-popular on SM. I don't know if you can hurry that learning curve, though, my wise words of wisdom certainly didn't help whilst in the middle of it anyway. Mine don't use SM a huge amount, post the odd photo not of themselves and not all their friends are into it, so whilst they do use message apps and Insta to arrange meet-ups and so on, I wouldn't say that's such a big deal for them- but how to be 'popular', what you look like, if you are a bit different, coping with stupid remarks/low level bullying have all been on the agenda.

Just keep talking, that way you know what's going on and they can also work out their own solutions, getting others involved if needs be.

TeenTimesTwo Sun 31-Mar-19 09:09:59

Probably not going to help too much here, but my y9 isn't on social media, and nor are most of her friends. I think they are way better off. I think social media for young teens can be really damaging, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.
Could she mute it or whatever for 3 weeks and see if she feels better or worse?

MrPickles73 Sun 31-Mar-19 09:14:34

Don't you have to be 13 for an instagram account? I.e. year 9? I would contact the school and ask them to remind the families of the age limit and see if that helps to move them off it.
Also have a chat with the teacher. They must see these issues all the time...

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 09:15:11

DD is 13 but I don't allow social media of any sort. We tried it once when she turned 13 but she became obsessive very quickly and checked her phone constantly. One of her 'likes' she'd received was from a boy who isn't particularly loyal to her in real life and we spoke long and hard about the ridiculousness of the situation. So the account was deleted.

She's now at a point where she's missing it but this is because all her friends have it. I'm resolute though and keep asking her exactly what she's missing.

DD10 doesn't have a phone and won't one until secondary school. No SM for her either.

I'm also a secondary school teacher and see daily the issues SM bring. It is like the Wild West. If you are a parent that doesn't check your
Child's postings and search history, you are very much part of the problem.

We have amazing kids - kids you'd trust with your own children - and then (because of online issues), we keep a peek of what they are up to online and it's shocking.

The adult sexual nature, the violent images, cruelty, hideous language - all for lolz. It's brutal.

If you are a parent who "doesn't need to check little Samantha's account because she's sensible and I trust her" - then you are deluded and in need of parenting classes. Thankfully, all the posters on this thread are fairly responsible, but you'd be shocked at how many seem to not bother.

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 09:23:16

The rise of the internet and social media has monumentally changed the landscape of adolescence. Our children are exposed to far too much too quickly and the just don't have the emotional devices to deal with what they are looking at.

In the last 20 years, metal health issues has soared in the youth. It correlates with the introduction of social media and the internet.

Ratatouille76 Sun 31-Mar-19 09:26:53

I check my daughters phone daily. She does have WhatsApp but that's because she can message and it doesn't eat into her data. She plays helix jump and thats it. I check her search history too. No phone after 8 and it stays downstairs. Think I got the idea for those rules from mumsnet. Shes had messages from friends at half ten at night. They are only 11.

exLtEveDallas Sun 31-Mar-19 09:41:14

When DD first had Insta Ratatouille I was shocked at how late some posts came through - because of course they all pinged on my phone! Kids in Year 6 still posting at 10 and 11 on a school night!

TheHumbleHawthorn Sun 31-Mar-19 10:32:00

If DD didn't have snapchat she'd miss out on arrangements for parties/meeting up.

SM is here to stay and I'd much prefer to help my DD learn to manage it than impose an outright ban.

MrPickles73 Sun 31-Mar-19 11:01:07

I would take the secondary school teacher's advice. If it's not working ban it.

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 13:10:55

I've only just checked in (Mothers Day/clocks changing). Thank you for all the really helpful advice on here - it's invaluable stuff!

Limiting screen time and getting her to start an out of school hobby or sport are great ideas. She's was amazing at drama at junior school so I'm going to look into this. We take all media devices away from both DC at bedtime by the way.

DD's Instagram account is private and she posts as many nature pictures as selfies, and even those are more arty than pouty.

@cloudymelonade one of the main things bothering her is that her BF is more conventional than her, in looks and personality, and she has been much more 'accepted by the clique'.

While I realise this has always happened in secondary schools, it's the social media consequences of it that have got to my DD. Because her BF is now seen to be popular, loads of girls at the (huge) school have now asked to follow her on Instagram and in a couple of months she's acquired double the number of followers my DD has. Her account is also private but she's now got a sufficient following to attract random peers in her area now rather than friends of friends of friends etc. It's like they've been fed into this vast popularity ranking system, with her BF climbing up while DD crawls bit by bit!

This is how it seems from yesterday's conversation anyway, and what shocked me was having it explained in detail how much their real lives really do feed into social media, when I thought it was much more separate, ie 'not real' and therefore they could more easily switch off from it emotionally. I was wrong!

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 13:25:14

@Springisallaround wow you're a strong woman!

I follow DD and her BF on Instagram (it's why I joined) and I also have her phone password, so can check easily if I want.

There are never nasty comments, so she's not being bullied, it's just the whole popularity thing that's got to her. When she left junior she felt equal to her BF (as they are), but she's now feeling inadequate in comparison, and what concerns me the most is that it's for ALL THE WRONG REASONS!

SweatyUnderboob Sun 31-Mar-19 13:26:43

Give her a book called “What a time to be alone” by Chidera Eggerue aka the slum flower

BloodsportForAll Sun 31-Mar-19 13:28:00

You can tell her that this 36 year old adult has struggled with facebook, that it's only by coming off it entirely that I've started to feel better - about myself, about where I stand with other people, and so on.

I use insta but not all my friends do. My lack of facebook means people have to bother to message or ring or email me now. And it encourages me to contact people individually or in a group on what's app, which is much more personal.

My year seven girl hasn't got insta but has been asking for two years. I'm close to relenting, because she wants to use it for her art, to be creative. But your post has got me worried now.

Encourage her to widen her friendship circle at school. She and her friend may even drift apart naturally. I remember my first two years well.

I don't think stopping her from using it will help, but I don't have a solution either.

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 13:40:04

When you step away from SM yourself, you really are able to see how crazy the system is and the risky effects it has on our children. Looks, body shape, personality all up for critique by randoms that shouldn't really matter.

Some of you have mentioned your DC feeling lower self-worth because they don't have as many hits and likes or followers. Why does ANY of it matter?

Think logically - in real life, our closest friends and relatives aren't accessible to us day and night - it wouldn't be healthy. Yet allowing your DC on social media is opening the door to that. Until someone shows me otherwise - concrete evidence - that SM is improving the health and well-being of your DC, then I truly believe it's one risk too many. We shield our DC from so many dangers yet allow them free access and free exposure to a world we cannot touch. You're all way too heavily caught up in this.

As far as making my DC tech savvy - allowing them on SM is not the way to increase their digital competency. There are many other ways.

My DD doesn't miss out on any news/events as her friends text her or, hows this for a novel idea - speak to her in person or over the phone.

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 14:09:07

@Smartieshavetheanswer I was thinking along the same lines as you until my DD opened up.

It's how much it's tied up with her real life that's bothering me/her. I wish it was randoms and not people she has to interact with every day!

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Sun 31-Mar-19 14:20:09

All those years ago, when we went for you Y7 induction evening, we were forewarned that there would be a dramatic shift in friendships in Y7, usually post Christmas, it's happened since time immemorial

Why? because primary is small in comparison to secondary, one or two forms compared to five, six or even twelve forms as some schools round here are. Here, there is no such thing as 'feeder' primary school - secondaries take in from nearly 80 primaries - and for those of you up country, I don't think you understand how gigantic a single borough in London is in terms of population density . But I digress.

So all these new kids, and the freedom of getting the bus or walking home without parental escort, and 'play dates' are no longer manufactured by parents, and who ever was your bestie in primary may not be in your form or streamed with you for lessons. Children in Y7 find their own friendship groups, some mature a lot quicker than others and can cope with change, some find the whole transition very difficult and cant adapt.

Not all Y7s use SM, some live on it, some use it responsibly, some duck pout and look like footballers wannabe wives from a very young age, some post pictures of kittens and fluffy. Each will find heir own level - but if it's a problem - then they need the maturity to disable the account.

FWIW I have a 48yo mate who bitterly complains if she doesn't get the required likes , so it isn't a child related thing !

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 14:29:15

OP - I hear you.
When there was discord or nastiness years before, you'd go home, moan to your Mam, be allowed maybe 10 mins to call your friend on the landline (before you Mam would yell at you that it was peak-time expensive!) but essentially, it would cool down and diffuse overnight and your head would be allowed other distractions and be given a break from it.

That stress is now with them a LOT longer and from experience, it snowballs into deeply unpleasant things online.

If it's her friends, then a shaper word with parents are necessary and a full step back from social media. As the previous poster said - it needs an adult to step up and make a decision.

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 14:31:09

I feel so strongly about it. Schools deal with a huge, I cannot stress this enough, HUGE amount of nastiness and stress because of pupils online activity.

It's heart-breaking.

DoesLittle Sun 31-Mar-19 14:43:43

Would also strongly advocate outside interests. They then can have an intriguing 'other life' outside school.

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 14:55:16

It hasn't even reached any nastiness yet, it's just the whole popularity-ranking of Instagram that's upsetting her.

On-line bullying is a whole other level she may have to endure at some point...

Feeling very reassured by some PPs who said the SM obsession calms down a bit in Y9!

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 14:57:25

@DoesLittle am definitely going to get her to start attending one of the really good drama clubs in our city, as she loves it at school!

AlphaJura Sun 31-Mar-19 15:09:47

My dd is in year 6 and they all have smartphones with tick tock and instagram. I've always encouraged her to talk about things with me but she has recently become very miserable and critical of me. I am wondering if it is down to SM. I am going to try putting limits on her phone and see if it makes a difference. She's at her dad's this weekend and hasn't taken her phone so we'll see if she is any happier.

MrPickles73 Sun 31-Mar-19 18:02:54

Yr 6 shouldn't be on instagram. I would report this to the school.

exLtEveDallas Sun 31-Mar-19 18:04:27

What do you think the school could do @MrPickles73 ?

GreenTulips Sun 31-Mar-19 18:13:36

So you thought your DD was popular at junior school and it’s come as a bit of a shock that she’s less popular than other girls in her year? And she’s not happy because she doesn’t get the likes the other girls do?

Dear me!! I think you should’ve taught her some resilience.

Ratatouille76 Sun 31-Mar-19 19:53:47

Sorry but why are year 6 children on ticktok and Instagram? Just say no, we have and it's been fine.

Warpdrive Sun 31-Mar-19 20:30:29

I think it’s great that she’s shared her concerns with you.

My eldest is 15 and has gone through some stuff. It’s been tough but as a result of how unhappy it has made her, she’s stepped away from the social media that upset her (unfollowed and blocked people) and reassessed her fundamental friendship group and stepped away from people She’s hung out with since primary. As a result she’s sometimes lonely now, but she’s the one in control. Her friendship group will develop on her terms now and already she has some new friends.
And, she’s thrown herself into schoolwork and her hobby (is taking her grade 8 piano this year) and is thriving with them.

I think it’s tough call for parents, to help their children navigate these 21st century issues, but I am raising a strong, independent, hardworking young woman who is capable of making tough decisions and doesn’t bow to peer pressure but focuses on achieving her own goals instead.

Remember that challenges help kids grow and develop - we shouldn’t shy away from them, but encourage our children to take bold steps in tackling them - if it makes her feel bad, why does she continue with it?

JuliaAndJulia Sun 31-Mar-19 22:09:22

Mine is in a similar boat. She got a bit fed up and decided to delete TikTok when she discovered things her so called friends were doing without including her. Since then she's a bit detached but WhatsApp is distracting & written words can brew trouble even when there isn't any before. She's not on insta & only allowed to use snapchat for the filters. I don't mind her using SM but not yet. I'd rather she first navigates y7 & settles into secondary, makes firm friends and knows where she stands first.

I think deleting the app will give your DD immense relief & freedom because she will have nothing to compare. It might feel strange at first & get talked about but in a few days the benefits will outweigh the issues & she won't look back.

Good luck!

floribunda18 Sun 31-Mar-19 22:12:48

When there was discord or nastiness years before, you'd go home, moan to your Mam, be allowed maybe 10 mins to call your friend on the landline (before you Mam would yell at you that it was peak-time expensive!) but essentially, it would cool down and diffuse overnight and your head would be allowed other distractions and be given a break from it.

Nope. I never told my parents about bullying and friendship problems, and there was no social media. It certainly didn't blow over overnight.

user1486131602 Sun 31-Mar-19 22:16:14

I have a teen dad, and we had issues also.
The 'solution ' I found best was when she goes to bed she has to turn the phone off, its linked to Melanie ne so no cheating! If she doesn't, no phone!
Has deffo improved things from her side, but you change other people.

Smartieshavetheanswer Sun 31-Mar-19 22:48:57

floribunda of course not every situation would cool off, but they certainly wouldn't be quite so intense nor amplified as they are now with snapchat and social media.

floribunda18 Sun 31-Mar-19 22:51:49

Pretty intense when someone is in your face every day at school as well.

OccidentalPurist Sun 31-Mar-19 23:06:58

One comment from my DD that really stood out when we spoke yesterday was "I feel that nobody cares about me". It sounded so sad, but I felt so cross inside (didn't show it) as it's caused by bloody Instagram!

GetRid Sun 31-Mar-19 23:32:30

Aargh. My dds are 9 and 7. No phones yet obviously. I am dreading all of this to come. I think you need to be so across all of these apps just so you know how they work. I haven't got the foggiest idea about Instagram etc.

Op - it does sound very difficult for your dd. But I do remember being this age and seeing primary friends suddenly become v popular at secondary for superficial reasons (mainly looks). It's the same thing. I guess the only thing you can do is teach resilience, and limit use of the app in favour of other activities.

Oliversmumsarmy Sun 31-Mar-19 23:55:25

Dd at that age had one best friend. Like in your dds class there was an alpha group.

Dd had a lot of after school stuff so was spared a lot of social media issues

Dd and her friend werent really interested in the stuff the alpha group was into. They were more into giggling over silly stuff than how their hair and make up looked or who was dating who.

In the end the alpha group was a small group and the rest of the class became the bigger fun group.

SE13Mummy Mon 01-Apr-19 00:22:24

DD1 is 14.5, Y9 and uses Instagram, as do most of her friends. She doesn't have thousands of followers whereas some of her peers do but from the outset, we strongly encouraged her to only add people she knew well enough to know their birthday/where they lived and liked enough to be happy to know where she lives. Together, we've looked at Instagram accounts that offer 'follow for follow' or 'likes for likes' as well as those that are fake followers and considered the likelihood of the apparently popular people either being less discerning than she is when it comes to who she adds, or that some of their followers being fake accounts.

Although DD1 would sometimes like to be one of those who seem popular online, she is able to see that real life and Instagram friends aren't the same i.e. how many online friends wish her happy birthday by getting in touch independent of social media? I continue to encourage her to be picky about who she follows and vice versa; there's no point following someone who ignores you in real life or, because you don't get invited to things, make you feel excluded when you see their 'story' on Instagram. She has got much better at having the courage to delete people that make her feel uncomfortable for whatever reason and I'm not aware of any of them having asked why.

She doesn't have her phone in her room after 8.30pm which does at least spare her from late night silliness and notifications. I'd prefer she spent less time watching videos on Instagram and YouTube but she finds time to ring friends, do homework, daily music practice, a couple of sports and various other things that aren't screenbased so it's part of a balance.

Smartieshavetheanswer Mon 01-Apr-19 05:44:16

floribunda then the issue here is bullying and you should report it to your tutors. Online or real life is harrowing and awful and needs dealing with but my point here is that SM allows that bully access into your bedroom, sometimes in the early hours.

Smartieshavetheanswer Mon 01-Apr-19 05:45:27

The most resilient pupils I teach are those that have hobbies and friends outside of the school community. It's always been the case too.

BeautifulName Mon 01-Apr-19 06:01:10


MsTSwift Mon 01-Apr-19 08:02:27

She needs to be helped to lower her expectations of her peers. Apart from a few proper friends most are going to be indifferent to her at best. That overused word resilience is needed here - getting your confidence from the views of others who dont care about you is a path to misery and makes you weak. Sounds like she is not old enough for social media at all think I would try to end her use of it.

OccidentalPurist Mon 01-Apr-19 11:01:26

So many helpful replies on here - thank you.

@SE13Mummy and @Smartieshavetheanswer
I'm going to copy your advice into Notes to show my DD (along with a lot of other good stuff on here).

This thread prompted me to talk more with DD yesterday about everything. I didn't think she'd experienced any actual bullying yet on SM, but she told me that about four months ago one of the alpha girls had posted on a whole-class WhatsApp group that had been set up, asking "Who wants to go to Burger King after school tomorrow?!" My DD responded with "Yay, I'd love to!", to which this girl replied with "Not you, obvs". So the whole class would have seen this...

I'm starting to get a bigger picture now and need to make sure I keep up the dialogue with her about it. My DD's default setting is to be very happy and chatty, with me anyway, and you really have to eek any negative stuff out of her as she really keeps it inside.

Ratatouille76 Mon 01-Apr-19 13:21:18

Oh your poor DD that's mean.

MsTSwift Mon 01-Apr-19 13:36:04

What a little bitch.

If you have Spotify listen to Taylor swift “mean” and “the best day”. My two girls and I listen to these songs in these situations and they always cheer us up!

HennyPennyHorror Mon 01-Apr-19 13:40:48

What's she interested in OP? What hobbies?
I have a 14 year old DD. flowers

OccidentalPurist Mon 01-Apr-19 17:01:32

@HennyPennyHorror she was really into drama at junior and there are a lot of good clubs in our city, so I think that's the way forward. Not so into sport, although she's very active.

SE13Mummy Mon 01-Apr-19 17:11:19

Burger King Girl isn't a friend to your DD and although your DD feels that shows her up, I would suggest it shows up BKG to be unpleasant. I hope others in the group challenged her on what she'd written, if they didn't then I would be concerned about the level of power BKG has in the class generally. Would your DD block her on WhatsApp so she doesn't have to see what she's writing? Blocking her presents a different issue in that she may be writing things about your DD that she doesn't get to see at all but DD is likely to be better off for not having to read that sort of nonsense.

MsTSwift Mon 01-Apr-19 17:22:12

My dd is year 8 and anyone doing what that girl did would be viewed as unkind and well out of order. They are actually quite careful to be seen to be nice so if this went unchallenged I would be abit concerned about the dynamic in the class

Tillyop Mon 01-Apr-19 17:32:30

From the other side OP, my DD is one of those girls who is the top of the clique etc etc.

Please tell your DD that there is pressure which comes with that too. Once you’re on top you have to stay there!

With regards to curating her own feed/posts. The girls who seem to do very well on insta are extremely selective with what they post. It’s mostly stories not on their grids. Grid posts seem to be for special occasions and are agonised over!

Also all that “not sure on this pic might delete” crap. Don’t do it. It’s just inviting negativity.

sassanach Mon 01-Apr-19 17:47:53

my DD will be starting high school in August (Scotland)

WTF Is tik tok?

OccidentalPurist Mon 01-Apr-19 23:36:17

@Tillyop my DD only posts on grid but it's a mixture of photos of things and places, with the odd selfie, but it's all gorgeous stuff as she's very creative. My DH, who's into photography, is gobsmacked at what she can do with her iPhone compared to his Nikon D850.

This may be part of the problem as, although she's considered beautiful by her peers, she doesn't care and never posts photos showcasing an outfit or a pouty look, which most of the alpha lot and their followers do - that seems to be what most people want to look at, probably to compare etc.

GreenTulips Tue 02-Apr-19 08:04:59


I’ve never read such a pile of shit in my life!!

Sunkist12 Tue 02-Apr-19 09:15:19

I've no advice to give on this, but it's so awful.
I do actually work on social media full time day in day out as my job and I want to stress that it really doesn't get any better with the adults on these social platforms.

I had all aspects of social media until about 6 months into my job when I just cancelled everything and the relief I feel is overwhelming. Would your DD be interested in doing this?

MsTSwift Tue 02-Apr-19 09:24:46

11 - 13 year girls have always gone through this it’s part of the human condition remember it from my own school days SM just magnifies it.

Oblomov19 Tue 02-Apr-19 09:36:36

I'm really sorry I'm a bit confused as to quite what the problem is or whether you're blaming Instagram, mid-directing your attention? for what is really a confidence issue in your daughter.

Ds1 is a bit older admittedly, But I do know from fellow friends that girls can be a totally different kettle of fish!! And sometimes nasty.

however Ds1 fortunately hasn't really had any major friendship problems on Instagram etc, or the boys seem to sort it out in a totally different way and it certainly hasn't had the effect that has on your daughter.

You have a number of options: you can remove her from all social media, but I'm not sure that's best - she needs to learn to make it work for her, in whatever way that is- for her to have the inner confidence of knowing who she is, and be happy and excepting of that. Maybe wanting to be part of this group of girls, but also excepting that they may have 100 followers and that is okay because she still a nice girl and she's got nice friends and this is all alright.

Oblomov19 Tue 02-Apr-19 09:46:18

It's not the BF's fault that she's become so popular and your DD hasn't.
Maybe they are drifting apart? Maybe your DD needs to find new friends.

This is not uncommon. Surely you talked to your DD pre going to secondary about friendships and how they develop and change?

OccidentalPurist Tue 02-Apr-19 11:30:41

@Oblomov19 friends becoming more popular with cliques has always happened at school, I realise, and a decade or so ago she could have much more easily accepted it and dealt with it accordingly.

But it's how this has had a direct consequence on Instagram that has shocked me.

When her BF was accepted by the clique, suddenly loads of girls in her year (not just her class) wanted to follow her BF, followed by girls from other schools in our city, once her followers built up

So my DD's circumstances have really been exacerbated by this. As I mentioned, Instagram at their age is like being fed into a giant popularity ranking system. What's worse is that my DD isn't as fussed about Instagram as others - she posts mainly arty stuff, but she can't help but feel rather inadequate compared to her BF.

She said the other day that she felt that no one cared about her. She's usually very upbeat and I hate to think of her being made sad by this.

Oblomov19 Tue 02-Apr-19 11:48:43

I totally get that. I think it's worse for girls. But realistically this isn't going to change, get any better, as she goes through year 8,9,10 etc, is it?

Oblomov19 Tue 02-Apr-19 11:56:18

A quick word (email) with her tutor? And possibly her HoY?

onsen Tue 02-Apr-19 11:57:57

Mother of another quirky, eccentric girl here. She went through utter hell with this in year 6 and it has taken a while to build her confidence back up.

I definitely agree about outside interests, but can she also do something with her photography? That sounds like a good source of self-confidence. And are there any clubs at school where she can meet like minds from other classes.

Two other things. We are very open with DD about the pressures of this kind of thing; we talk to her about how the ones who are looking for likes are usually doing it through lack of self confidence, and the pointlessness of selfies/appearance culture, although this is made easier by the fact that DD is a raging feminist. There are quite a few good books out around this kind of subject at the moment as well.

And in the end, we have heavily restricted social media. She has an app on her phone which restricts some things (we've had issues with deeply inappropriate fan fiction, which she did report but oh my) and in the end, because of all the fuckwittery, we have deleted Instagram for the forseeable. This is bearable because it's mostly the idiots who are on it, and some of her friends aren't even allowed WhatsApp.

Finally, I would go and talk to the school about what is going on - that comment about 'not you' is over the line and I think they should know, and may be able to help her find a group which suits her better.

ProfessorLayton1 Tue 02-Apr-19 12:11:46

Onsen - what books do you suggest ?
Dd is one of three who don't own a phone and she is going into secondary school next year.
I am aware of some children who have had problems with SM - WhatsApp bullying etc.,
I have been speaking to her about the social media and she is only getting a brick phone next year.
Some really good advice here...
Fortunately she has a lot of outside activities that will keep her occupied ...

OccidentalPurist Tue 02-Apr-19 13:06:24

@onsen photography club is a really good idea thanks - I'll talk to her about it later. There may be one at school.

I so want her to realise she's better than this!

MsTSwift Tue 02-Apr-19 13:21:45

These poor kids on our day at least you were “safe” at home now with social media you aren’t

onsen Tue 02-Apr-19 13:41:17

@ProfessorLayton1. I'm afraid I can't lay my hands on them as they have mostly come from the library, but I think one was written by Gemma Cairney. She also did a great thing about body image which was done by our local chapter of Mighty Girls, in which they represented themselves as they wanted to show themselves - bookworms or so on.

Namestheyareachangin Tue 02-Apr-19 15:46:27

To be honest, for me, this was the moment in school I really had to make the choice between fitting in and being who I was. I could have learned to play the game; but I would have had to suppress so much of myself. I chose not to; and secondary school was hell on earth (or at least started that way, by GCSES/A Levels all the really hateful girls had either dropped out or gone off pregnant and everyone else had pretty much settled down by then and didn't need to constantly status-call and bully as in the early years). At best it was miserable. I was so perennially, noticeably weird and different.

But then I went travelling, and then to university, and my real life started, I found my people, I discovered that outside of the school 'popularity' straight jacket there were so many communities and worlds I fitted into but wasn't restricted by. While 'popular' kids found that the currency of their world had completely changed, and what they had invested so much time in becoming meant very little in a bigger wider and more diverse world.

Just explain to her that in school, a lot of people will just be average and boring, interested in average boring things, and because they are the majority it seems like those things are important.

But later in life she will be able to choose who she associates with, and that with a whole world to choose from those average boring people will fade into the background of her life and become inconsequential.

Tell her what she thinks of her is going to be far more important in the long run of what they think of her. Tell her she is special. Encourage a healthy contempt for people who think 'likes' and going to Burger King in a pack is the be all and end all. It won't make her more popular, but neither will scrounging after these girls' approval, and she'll lose a lot of herself in the process.

Seriously, the only way out of the 'being unpopular' trap is to not give a damn either way. It's hard, but it's a skill that can be mastered, and far more easily than bending yourself into a shape that doesn't fit.

Namestheyareachangin Tue 02-Apr-19 15:47:56

@onsen Thank God parents were so ignorant about the internet when I was a young teen - inappropriate fanfiction was my delight! grin Don't think my parents would even have had the first idea what it was...

Islands81 Tue 02-Apr-19 16:02:01

SM is bloody horrible for girls of that age. My dd has ASD, and she didn’t really have any friends at school. When she was in year 8 a group of the ‘cool’ girls asked if she’d like to sit and eat her lunch with them. She thought they were being kind and was happy to sit with them. Unbeknown to her, one of the girls took a picture of her and added the caption ‘loner’, and then sent it via snapchat to most of her year group. It broke my heart, and it’s things like that which meant that by year 9 I had to remove dd from school completely for her own mental health.

I attended a conference on internet safety for teens and it was frankly terrifying. Turns out that it’s the norm for secondary girls in relationships to send explicit pictures to their boyfriends. It’s expected of them and of course mostly they will do it. And when it all goes wrong and they break up, those pictures are often shared without their consent which can literally ruin their lives.

Luckily for me, dd is not at all interested in posting photos of herself on SM. She has an insta account but only uses it to post pictures of her art work (she is an amazing artist).

Islands81 Tue 02-Apr-19 16:04:43

Oh actually, dd does have another insta account, which is a parody of a ‘mean girls’ insta profile, with a stock image as a profile pic. She posts ridiculous (but hilarious IMO) over the top mean girl stuff and has a surprising amount of followers who seem to think it’s actually genuine!

OccidentalPurist Tue 02-Apr-19 19:06:34

@Islands81 gosh that's heartbreaking - are things much better for your DD now? thanks

Smartieshavetheanswer Tue 02-Apr-19 19:06:38

Islands parody in her mind or not, not everyone who reads this 'mean girls' fake account will understand/appreciate parody so she's very much part of the problem. I

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