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Nearly 13 year old DD spends all her time on phone/tablet - no 'real' friends as such

(23 Posts)
cookingmumma8901 Mon 22-Feb-16 13:40:18

My DD (13 next month) has been using Instagram for about a year. I don't know a lot about social media and only just found out they are supposed to be 13 to be on it or else I would have not allowed it. Embarrased and ashamed by my ignorance.

She has a Nexus tablet and Samsung phone and signed herself up to Instagram and Wattpad without us knowing. When we found out we weren't happy but as all her P7 friends were on it and their parents seemed relaxed about it we said she could stay on it as long as she only chatted to friends from school and didn't post pictures of herself.
She's been getting increasingly grumpy and cheeky to us lately with no conversation with us, moaning when asked to do anything etc. We were putting it down to general teenage behaviour and have been taking her phone/nexus/ipod away for 24 hours when her behaviour to us gets too bad. We haven't been checking her Instagram enough to be honest and found out yesterday that she has also joined another social media called Kik and has been directed by someone into a private group for LGBT. She's not even 13 yet so we're a bit taken aback by this and not very happy that she's conversing with strangers online about this! She's said there's 4 of them and they are aged between 11 and 16 and she only feels happy when she's on her phone/tablet. She told us that she thinks she is Pansexual - I didn't even know what that meant!

So she's lost the phone/tablet and ipod again while DH and I decide what to do and you can imagine she is none too happy with us.

While looking at her tablet we saw a message she put on saying she has 3 instagram accounts and also saw that one of her friends from primary school has 5 instagram accounts! How are parents supposed to keep track of that!

She spends most of her free time on either her phone or tablet and when we ask her what she's doing she tells us she's playing a game (but I think she has the social media running in the background). She went up to high school last summer and says she has some friends there, but we've never met any of them and don't know their parents. We've asked her to invite friends round but she never does. I'm concerned that she's living her life online, talking to goodness knows who and we know nothing about what she's doing or who she's talking to. I'd much prefer her to have some "real" friends!

What do other people do about social media and this age group? My gut feeling now is to deregister her from these ones she's on, let her join Facebook when she's 13 as long as we have her password so we can check it, privacy settings are on it and we can friend her. I know she won't want this but is this too harsh, or are we just keeping her safe online?

Sorry this was so long. Any thoughts/help appreciated as I'm at a loss as to what's the right thing to do.

Ticktacktock Mon 22-Feb-16 20:40:15

Well my dd wasn't allowed social media until 13, then when she got it the first thing she did was join KiK. I discovered she was being groomed. She was really angry at us for ruining her fun. She had fallen hook line and sinker for him. Her phone went to CID for 6 months while they investigated. After that, having access to the Internet was on condition I have all passwords, and I don't do it so much now but I regularly checked what she had been up to. I went on to find some unsavoury stuff on private messages, and had to involve the police again.

Social media changes kids. When my dd doesn't have access, usually because she's on a ban, she becomes nice again. When she gets it back she grows horns.

I'm would have no qualms in giving your dd rules and boundaries for socisl media. Mine is still unable to self regulate. I would also make sure all devices are downstairs at night.

GotABitTricky Tue 23-Feb-16 20:16:14

Similar concerns here, and being told we are only parents who appear to care, makes you wonder if too strict.

24 hour bans in place every other day recently, and defo agree when he on a ban, he becomes nice again. When he gets phone ipad back he grows horns.

No answers, but just typing to say you not alone.

He has password protected his phone - can I insist this is removed?
Easier said than done of course.

Ticktacktock Wed 24-Feb-16 10:44:17

Depends on age i would say. How old is your son tricky?

Scatter Wed 24-Feb-16 11:15:28

I have two sons aged 13 and 15. I think one of the biggest challenges of parenting today is keeping children safe online and where to draw the line with screen time/social media/internet access and so on.

There are no right answers - you have to know your children, establish trust with them and establish your own boundaries. We are told constantly by our children that we are the ONLY parents who don't allow phones in bedrooms, the ONLY parents who don't allow their children to play PS4 for 6 hours a day, the ONLY parents who don't bring children their tea IN FRONT OF THE PS4 (FFS) and the ONLY parents who don't allow their children to Snapchat all night long. Oh, and the ONLY parents who respectfully and repeatedly suggest/insist that phones are put in another room while homework is being done. I don't care. Firstly, I'm sure this isn't true, and secondly, as with almost every other aspect of parenting, other parents can do as they please. They can feed their children rubbish, they can buy them awful clothes, they can value or not value education, team sports, music, art, drama, dance, or anything else. That's up to them. In this area, as in all the others, YOU have to decide what YOU believe is right for YOUR child/ren, and then communicate that to them and stick to your boundaries. There could well be many times when your children will tell you that you are unfair or too strict, but it's YOUR house, they are YOUR responsibility and it is up to YOU to set the rules.

In our house, we monitored phone access sporadically for the first year or so, but haven't done since. We once had to speak to DS1 about inappropriate texting. Phones are not allowed upstairs, ever, for any reason and nor are ipads. We have always stuck to this and it has become a rule that the boys wouldn't even think to question now. 15 yo DS has recently got a computer in his room but doesn't use it as the one downstairs is better. He once got out of bed and turned it on at night - we told him that if he did that again, he would no longer be allowed the computer in his room. He hasn't done it since. If the boys used their phones inappropriately, we would stop paying for them - we have never spelt this out, but I think they know this. They do take the p*ss out of me for telling them that use of screens in the evening is linked to poor sleep (and to be fair, I can't remember where I read that and am unable to back it up scientifically), but they are definitely aware that our rules are made for their sake and not for ours - since, frankly, the rules are a pain in my backside and life would be a lot easier if I just let them do whatever they wanted and sank into the sofa each evening with a bottle of red wine.

Maybe we seem like monstrous parents at times, but we are doing all we can to raise happy, well-adjusted, sociable, responsible, well-educated and interesting people. We will all get it wrong sometimes but what I'm trying to say is - set your rules and stick to them.

For 13 year old children, I think it is appropriate for them to have one account each for their social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, KIK, Snapchat, whatever) and for you to be one of their friends/followers/whatever. If you don't already, then you could sign up to these things yourself, befriend your daughter and use it as another way to communicate with her. Just don't ever, ever post anything embarrassing on there. I also think it is totally appropriate for you to know her pass code and to insist that the phone/tablet/whatever is always left downstairs when she goes to bed. I think it is appropriate to check her activity on there, not every day but occasionally, and to challenge her about anything inappropriate, explaining why it's inappropriate and why you don't want it to continue. If after a number of challenges, the inappropriate behaviour continues then you could stop paying for her to have access to these things until you consider her mature enough to try again.

If your daughter is joining LGBT groups online and seems isolated at school then that would be my bigger concern. She might need support as she comes to terms with her sexuality, and so might you, if it's not an area you're familiar with. Try to talk to her openly about it, and suggest that you could join online forums together so that you can support her as she grows up, finds out about herself and makes choices. She might feel that she has no friends at school who would understand, leading her to seek 'friends' online. If you are understanding and supportive at home that could make a difference. And definitely speak with her Head of Year or Form Tutor at school to tell them your concerns. Many secondary schools now have LGBT groups and at the very least those school staff should know that you're worried she is isolated at school, so that they can keep a close eye on her friendships and emotional wellbeing.

Best of luck with it all.

norightanswer Wed 24-Feb-16 14:11:42

I agree with Scatter that you need to do what you feel is right. Although my kids are totally different when it comes to their use of Social Media, I have had the same rules for them both;
1) No phone or ipad is to be locked or any passwords set. I don't regularly check messages, however, they know that I can if I need to.
2) We are facebook friends and can therefore, moniter anything posted online.
3) They are friends with each other on Snapchat (although they sometimes block each other - so you know then that they are up to no good!).
4) They have private Instagram accounts that not everyone can follow.
5) They have down time when they get home from school and can use their phones, however, once I get home from work, they have to do homework. Once this is completed the phones are allowed again.

I think the main problem is the fear of missing out and if your DD is using Social Media for her main way of socialising then she will feel like you are taking her friends away from her when you take the phone away.

I would talk to the school (probably without her knowing). Form Tutor first then Head of Year.

Good luck.

Ticktacktock Wed 24-Feb-16 17:22:22

Norightsnswer, with respect, being friends on FB is useless. Anything worth reading is done via private messaging! All was / is lovely on the main pages with regard to my dd. I have involved school twice and the police once after reading private messages. She still doesn't know it was me who accessed her messages even though she knows I have access to them. School covered for me so I could get more information for a very delicate matter.

Anyhow, please check pm's on younger teens, they may well be glad of interception.

lavazzzalover Fri 26-Feb-16 21:21:21

I found my DD13 was big into social media. dont mind instagram etc but its the private messages that pissed me off. she was accused of setting up a fake account in instagram and I found her crying one evening. her so called friends were right bitches. and she could see all of this and they were saying the police were involved. so I butt in on her account saying I was mum and I wad the one who was gonna take this to the police and inform the school. blimey did they shut up. sent me private messages apologising etc. their cards were marked and they were truly vile.

so I have all password etc to every social media account and I check them.

I mentioned it to a couple of the mums (those I knew who cared!) and they spoke to their darlings.

her social media is now linked to my email address and she can delete all of them but I still get notifiedwink

Ticktacktock Fri 26-Feb-16 22:11:01

Nice one lavazzzlover. Teen girls can be truly vile creatures. Was talking to a friend of a friend today who said she would never invade the privacy of her 14 year old, and she had to make her own mistakes to learn from them. WTF?????

I had to walk away.

lavazzzalover Fri 26-Feb-16 22:15:39

I would never walk away. its different to when I was 13/14. it was lovely back then.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Fri 26-Feb-16 22:22:16

I thought Kik was 17?

Lots of them have several accounts - I have DD password although she doesn't know I know it -

There has to be some trust - but that's both sides

Eggsbutnobacon Fri 26-Feb-16 22:42:24

I am fed up to the back teeth with the trouble that being on various social media accounts has caused my 12 year old DD.
Every time we have relented and let her sign up to various sites ( because as you say everybody else parents let them go on!) we have realised we have made an unwise decision.
So now she is only allowed basic texting, phone and iPad to be left downstairs at night. And definitely definitely not on Kik, which is a paedophiles paradise.
And to the poster who mentioned the light emission from screens causing sleep problems. I have it on good authority that it affects the production of melatonin which is necessary for a goods nights sleep.

differentnameforthis Sat 27-Feb-16 00:34:15

She has a Nexus tablet and Samsung phone and signed herself up to Instagram and Wattpad without us knowing

So you don't monitor her activity then? With all the stories about how people meeting kids on the internet and luring them away from their homes, pretending to be teens themselves etc, all the news about how bullying is rife on the internet thought it was OK to let it babysit your child & now you are angry about it...

To little too late, sorry!

My daughter is 12 too, and she is monitored & restricted as to what she can do. Just started to message friends, and she knows that her messages will be checked when I decide to, she has strict boundaries as to what she can discuss with her friends (not allowed to mention personal family stuff, talk about a friend's personal issues, etc). I check out anything does online on a regular basis.

She accepts this, because if she doesn't, the ipad goes in the bin! BUT I have to say that she has grown up with these rules in place, as soon as she got her fb account, she KNEW I would be watching (an no, being friends on fb IS NOT enough to see what they are up to). So she doesn't hit out against it. It's normal in our house.

Kik is awful, no kid should be on it.

How are parents supposed to keep track of that! It's not hard, op. Honestly.

I'm concerned that she's living her life online, talking to goodness knows who and we know nothing about what she's doing or who she's talking to. So what are you doing about that?? You are going to have a difficult time changing the rules now, but you have to.

We have never had to ban tech because of her attitudes towards it. She knows the rules, and she sticks to them.

And before someone calls me smug, it isn't smug protecting your child online. And before anyone says she is hiding what she is up to...I have means of knowing EXACTLY what she is up to, I know tech better than she does, because I made it my priority to work out how her tech works!

differentnameforthis Sat 27-Feb-16 00:37:32

her social media is now linked to my email address and she can delete all of them but I still get notified That too!!

Also, need to make sure her social media is locked down. The amount of kids I see with EVERYTHING public worries me!

I vet who dd adds to her social media too, she isn't allowed to accept friends without me checking them out/knowing them.

LadyPeterWimsey Sat 27-Feb-16 00:42:35

We've just installed some hardware called Koala Safe, which gives us total control remotely from our devices over every device in the house and use it to restrict content and usage - currently very restricted because of misuse.

Funnily enough, behaviour is much improved in the last couple of weeks now everything is locked down and I can add or take away what I want at the touch of a button. More reading of actual books, more time with the rest of the family.

lavazzzalover Sat 27-Feb-16 08:53:54

different what do you mean "that too"?

is that for me? why? What's wrong with me linking her media to my email address? I get all notifications and she may well delete her private message but they're all in my email. What's so wrong? I don't read them all. I glance and pick up on problems.

Ticktacktock Sat 27-Feb-16 10:21:05

I think different was agreeing with your method, and I think she may have DD's accounts linked to her email address too.

differentnameforthis Sat 27-Feb-16 10:47:34

I think different was agreeing with your method I was agreeing with it, it is exactly what I do too!

differentnameforthis Sat 27-Feb-16 10:50:25

Sorry, lavazzzalover I was posting in a hurry & perhaps should have said "I do that too" Opps.

lavazzzalover Sat 27-Feb-16 14:47:57

oh I though you disagreed with me! it was early for me thoughgrin

Pidapie Sat 27-Feb-16 14:59:27

When I was 13 I spent a lot of time on an online forum for girls - I met some really good friends there, and am still in touch with 1 now - 15 years later. I think these days it's natural for kids to make friends online, and whilst she definitely need to have friends nearby, I'd say all you can do is support her. Go with her if she wants to meet up with anyone she talks to online (that are her age etc of course), there is a lot of girls at the same age out there who will play games and chat too.

I think rather than playing detectives, you should educate her to make sure she is not naive, and that she will not get lured in to anyone's "trap" if she happens to come across some weirdo. Show her the show "catfish" that was on MTV - it's about people being tricked by someone online pretending to be someone they're not. Could be an eye opener for her. I wouldn't panic if I were you, it'll be alright.

differentnameforthis Sun 28-Feb-16 00:42:07

lavazzzalover grin

cookingmumma8901 Sun 28-Feb-16 21:30:10

Thanks everyone for replying. It has helped to read what others do regarding monitoring what social media the kids are seeing. I hope those of you that are having problems find a solution that works. I am going to see my dd's guidance teacher tomorrow and have been reading the book Get Out of My Life by Suzanne Franks, although it doesn't give a huge amount of guidance about internet usage there is some useful ideas in general and insight in there.
I agree that we have to set the rules in our house and set our own standards. I may have given the impression that she has had free access to the phone/nexus whenever she likes but that's not been the case. It hasn't been 'babysitting' her. We already have time restrictions on the router so that her access is turned off at 9pm, we had been checking her phone and tablet intermittently but not every night and we have her passwords. All devices are also banned from her room at bedtime. We allowed her to be on Instagram on the condition that she only talked to people she actually knows and we trusted her to stick to this, but she decided to break the rules and lose that trust. She has two older brothers, one isn't interested in social media and the oldest one is on Facebook and Twitter. Dh and I are friends with him on Fb and Dh has his twitter password which we do check. DD has heard all the conversations we've had with him about internet safety and some issues he had a year or so ago, so naively I thought she's be a bit wiser. You live and learn!
I don't think there's been any grooming or abuse going on - I just don't want her seeing anything inappropriate for her age. Wish our children could be allowed to be children for longer than they are nowadays....
I am probably not as tech savvy as some (being an older mum) - I intend to look into this. Thanks for the tip about Koala Safe. smile

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