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Should I switch teen daughter's iPhone to basic?

(15 Posts)
Livelikelotus Tue 03-Jan-17 13:26:08

Hi, I'm a first-time poster so here goes:

DH & I feel that our only child, our sparky, beautiful, intelligent DD of 15yrs has lost much of her confidence and self-esteem. Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest have taken her over. She spends time (like most teens, I guess) compiling boards/following people, but often it involves image after image of beautiful models; or obsessing over her peers’ looks and how she compares; it’s very clear that this is having a negative effect on her. The need to wear make-up daily/blow dry her beautiful curly hair straight/shave her legs and wear ankle socks in winter — her anxiety about keeping up with pretty girls seems out of control.

She goes to an all-girls’ high-achieving grammar school where she seems to have a relatively nice group of friends though not without the usual tensions girl groups can have with each other. When things go wrong at school, it invariably means that her constant phone alerts will go into overdrive pinging nonstop as the gossip mill flies out of control; often she seems quite stressed by it though occasionally she’ll let us know a little about what’s happening. Before school, if she sees a post from one of her friends with a new hairstyle, for example, her mood can alter dramatically — and for the worse.

Her out of school activities (drums, reading, art, volleyball) are tailing off and hardly seem to matter; the only thing that she focuses on is meeting up and hanging out with friends, which only becomes a problem when she forsakes everything else. She now seems to put off doing homework until the last minute and although we prefer she keeps technology away whilst doing homework, she often insists she needs her phone or laptop to research or listen to music; thankfully she accepts handing them in at bedtime.

We feel a growing need to switch her phone to a basic one to try to reduce the anxiety that social media is fuelling and would be grateful to hear about any other parents’ experience of doing this. We’ve always tried our best to support her in any way we can. A few months ago we were heartbroken to discover that she self-harms and has been doing this for some time. Her self-harm is linked to school pressures and her social crowd. She now sees a private counselor and has been making good progress.

We don’t want her to see the basic phone as a punishment, but fear the effect that taking her smartphone away will have on her – that it could make her feel excluded from her peers and potentially lead to further self-harming, anger, demotivation and rebellion.

Pheebs770 Tue 03-Jan-17 13:42:29

I am really sorry to here this, my dd is 10 & I'm already worrying about this & being so appearance obsessed.
I would worry that taking her phone away would make her a social outcast unless she can take a rebellious stand against it in a confident way & tell her friends shes happier without it??
Sometimes you want to protect them & whisk them away to a Scottish island or something!
All you can do is limit use (no before school?) and give her the tools to deal with social media confidently.

Pheebs770 Tue 03-Jan-17 13:49:46

Sorry if not v helpful, hopefully someone experienced will come along flowers

teaping Tue 03-Jan-17 14:04:16

Poor you OP, I can only imagine how concerning and stressful this must be.

I'd be hesitant about removing her iPhone completely - she'll see it as a punishment and will probably feel left out amongst her friends if she's not able to join in.

Have you thought about restricting her usage of it at home? Perhaps not by targeting her directly but instilling a family rule of no phones / iPads / laptops (except for homework) for a few hours in the evening to improve quality family time for all of you?

Livelikelotus Tue 03-Jan-17 15:32:33

Thank you both for your thoughts. It's really kind of you both to have shared with me. Yes, our gut feeling is that it will do more harm than good and that her resentment would be unbearable for us as a family unit. I've since made an appointment to speak with my doctor as I'm feeling pretty sad about it all.

Livelikelotus Tue 03-Jan-17 15:33:33

@teaping - sorry, yes, we restrict her phone as it is

vshah140113 Tue 03-Jan-17 17:12:59

I think it will be hard to change the phone now and might also affect her confidence as these days everything is about peer pressure and trying to have the latest gadgets. My daughter is 14 and is in the same kind of situation, everything is about selfies, likes and snaps. We try to restrict her time on the phone but it's very hard because they are at the age when they want to do their own thing. Just try to be as involved with her as possible and do other things with her so she's not on her phone as much. Mine was self harming too and taking the phone away made her more withdrawn.
I'm still struggling with this and hoping this phase ends soon.

corythatwas Wed 04-Jan-17 10:13:16

She is getting to an age where solutions to life's problems will increasingly have to come from within herself, so I would be wary of any solution that depends on mum and dad just stepping in and taking charge. Sometimes you may have to do this in an emergency, but the ideal for these years is to be working towards a setting where she manages her difficulties and finds solutions with your help and advice.

Or even with the help and advice of others. I have several times gone through the range of feelings from betrayal ("how can they discuss these things with others and not with me?") to sadness ("why am I not the first person they think of when they need help?") to relief and gratitude ("thank goodness there was somebody there they felt they could open up to") to pride in their ability to sort themselves out.

I would start with low key discussions about stress in general, is she feeling ok, does she have any solutions, can you help, does she feel her counsellor could help, would she like a non-judgmental brain-storming session?

Also what vshah said about engaging with her in other ways.

misshelena Thu 05-Jan-17 14:27:43

Sorry you are going through this... It's true, social media is evil! It amplifies every insecurity teens go through. Know you are not alone.
We went through similar with dd1, now a loving, social and high achieving 16yo. Worst was between ages 12-14. She was part of a nasty group of girls who bullied others and each other too. Dd lost interest in everything, grades suffered, and was so rude to us, teachers and her sister. Iphones lit up with messages WAY past midnight every night (although we eventually made her leave her phone downstairs at bedtime).
What ultimately saved dd1 was the new sport we basically forced on her. We forced her to try out for a very competitive team in town (we thought she had a fair chance of making it, given her athleticism). She made the team and became very good at it very quickly. The practice schedule was intense (10 hrs/wk) plus games. Not only could she no longer hang out extensively with her clique, she couldn't even participate much in their social media drama every night. She was so exhausted by her practice that she couldn't stay awake pass 10pm! The nasty girls eventually kicker her out of their clique. By then, dd1 didn't much care as she had already made new friends in her sports who were disciplined athletes and students.
So OP, if there is something healthy that you can get your dd to redirect her attention to, like a sport or theater or even a cause, etc. that'll go a long way in taking her mind off the pointless and constant obsession with her peers.
Also, I agree with others that you shouldn't take her smart phone away. There is no way that she won't feel it as a punishment. But do continue to be firm in restricting its usage. Best of luck to you!

Livelikelotus Tue 10-Jan-17 13:41:01

Thank you all so much for your greatly received feedback. I don't usually put myself out there with my worries so this has been a really positive experience. Coming from a large family of mostly girls, I thought (in some respects) I had this.

We won't take dd's iPhone away - how could we really?!
We've just signed her up to a volleyball club that's very separate to school/friends so great to hear that this helped in misshelena's case. We can only hope. I also think you're completely right corythatwas - we want to empower her to begin to find effective ways to deal with her stresses and maybe check in with her now and then; super useful reminder smile She only sees the counsellor fortnightly now (on the counsellor's recommendation) so things must be improving I guess.

It's just so exhausting seeing dd having her energies sapped by her worries and wanting her to realise that she's more in the driving seat of this runaway train than she realises. The counsellor is looking to start teaching her some mindfulness techniques additionally but I wish the school would do more as psychological health in schools (particularly an all girls school) should be taken as seriously as physical health. They make the right noises but I really feel actions speak louder than words in this case.

AndNowItsSeven Tue 10-Jan-17 13:42:54

No need to change her phone just delete the apps you don't want her to have and switch off safari when she isn't in the same room as you.

butterfly990 Sat 18-Mar-17 20:03:02

This is an interesting video about women's reactions to being photo shopped. It might be worth showing it to her.

RiverdaleJughead Sat 18-Mar-17 20:25:31

No, all of her friends will have a group chat and she will be shut out and everyday will turn up to school not knowing whats happened or whats going on because she doesnt have SM, she wont get invites to places because its alldone over SM.

JenniferYellowHat1980 Sat 18-Mar-17 20:47:00

I'm sorry for your DD's anxiety and the worry it's causing you, but please don't place this at the teachers' door. They are on their knees trying to get teens to high level passes just to keep their pay.

swingofthings Sun 19-Mar-17 08:37:54

I agree, definitely don't take it away from her. The issue is not the phone, instagram etc..., it is that she lacks confidence and feels under pressure to be a certain way to be loved and appreciated.

Unfortunately, it is the life for many kids (and adults!), but it does NOT have to be this way. I bet the vast majority of her friends feel exactly the way she does but none of them dare breaking from the norm. DD went through the same, albeit when she was 12/13 and I hated seeing her feeling like she had to look/talk/act/the way the others did and just wasn't herself at all any longer. Then she suddenly decided that she had enough of all this, that she was going to be her own self and if she lost friends over it, that would be too bad.

It worked brilliantly. She stopped wearing make up all together, dressed in her own style, stopped trying to hide that she was very academic, laughed when she wanted to laugh, stopped getting involved in her friends drama and just decided to be a lucky goer, who loves me follows me, and it's worked amazingly. Ironically, it had the exact opposite effect with 'popular' girl wanting to be her friend, and I expect that's because being her friend became much less pressurizing.

I know it is very hard to convince teenage girls that they don't have to fit within a stereotype to be appreciated and that being her own self is what will attract people to her, that they don't need to be au fait of all the latest drama, that real friends are those who appreciate you the way you are, but ultimately, I think that trying to make them see that is the best thing we can do as a parent.

DD has even decided to have a media free day every week a few months ago (Wednesdays) because she realised that she wasn't reading as much as she used to and missed it. She hasn't lost friends as a result, if anything, a couple of them have done the same.

I hope your DD will learn that confidence is everything and can only be found within oneself, not the eye of judging others.

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