Setting Social Media Boundaries with a Tween
Dear Coach Deborah,
Our daughter has wanted a social media account since she was 10 years old. We have told her that we will revisit social media accounts when she turns 12. Well, she turns 12 this month and I’m not sure I’m ready for the conversation. I don’t think she’s mature enough to handle everything that goes on with the rude and insulting comments and more.
I know she is going to bring it up and my first reaction is to say, “Not yet.” How should I step into this conversation with her?
Thanks, Timid Tween Mom
Hello Timid Tween Mom,
Thank you for writing in.
Our children often gain access to social media before we would like them to, either while at a friend’s house or on their own. And in many cases, they are more tech savvy than the parent and manage to access things we think have been blocked.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for the upcoming conversation with your tween.
- Commend her for following the rule and expectation that she wait until 12 years old. Let her know that trust is important and how thankful you are that you can trust her.
- Ask her a few questions. Normally, tweens don’t like being bombarded with questions. But in this instance, she will probably be eager to explain her point of view with you. Here are a few examples. “Why do you want a social media account?” “What are some concerns you have about social media?” “What do you think some of my concerns might be?” “What rules do you think should be followed regarding social media use?” Feeling heard may help with following any additional rules concerning social media use.
- Be a good example. The old adage is true, “Children do as we do, not as we say.” So pay attention to your own social media habits – how often you are using the apps, what you are communicating and how it impacts you.
- Resist the urge to control. This one is hard for all of us. Rule broken, phone gone. I get it. But keep in mind that our children have easy access to computers, laptops and other devices. Continue to push on the idea of creating and maintaining trust and the consequences when that is broken.
- Remember that social media isn’t all bad. I am sure your daughter will highlight this as well, and she won’t be wrong. When used correctly, social media can be a great way to stay connected to others.
Lastly, monitoring her use may have its place, but keep in mind how daunting that task can be, also. Our children know more than we do in the world of social media. Connect the expectations, behavior and consequences to your family’s values, keep the door open for communication and let her know that there is always a path back from mistakes. This combination has a good chance of yielding higher returns than just taking the device away.