In today’s society many kids have more than one social media account. This is because there are so many different ways to communicate and share videos and information. The most common ones that I know of are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Kik. I remember that when I was 11 years old Facebook had just become popular, however, the age requirement in my family to have a social media account for myself was 13. I recall being upset because so many of my other friends were getting Facebook accounts and they were the same age as me. I didn’t understand why my parents set this rule, it was like they didn’t trust me. Looking back on it now I am thankful that my parents set that guideline because I think that the earlier I started on social media the more attached I would be to it today. However, I am also very happy that that was the only guideline that my parents set. They trusted me enough to where they never asked to follow me on snapchat or Instagram, they never even had a social media account. I felt proud that my parents respected and trusted me enough not to do that and honestly I think because of that it made me want to prove to my parents that they made the right decision in trusting me. This causes me to be even more conscious of what I post. Even if your teen doesn’t accept your follow request on social media doesn’t meant that they are hiding something, I just think it means that they don’t want to be monitored like a child; they want freedom. I have this one friend who has a very controlling mom, every night she has to turn her phone into her mom to be “checked”. Her mom searches through her Instagram, emails and even texts. This causes my friend to do most of her texting through snapchat which deletes the message after a certain amount of time. I don’t believe that my friend is hiding anything from her mom, she just always complains about how controlling she is and how she “hates” her sometimes. I think that if my friend’s mom didn’t micromanage her life so much that they would have a better relationship. I believe that you have to give trust first to be able to get it, but if you have trouble trusting your teen there are some things you can do to improve relations. One big change that would help with not only this issue but others would be to have a time every day (if you can) where you meet as a family and just talk, with no phones out, no TV on, no distractions; just attentive ears. My family does this at least twice a week, we get together for a family dinner and aren’t allowed to have our phones out. This may be a difficult habit to get into, it also may be challenging to find things to talk about. Here are some ideas of things to bring up in the conversation:
- What school projects have you been assigned?
- What are the plans for the weekend?
- Share a personal story of what happened at your workplace, or something funny you saw online.
- Homecoming is coming up; ask for details about those things that are important to your teen.
Having conversations like this with your whole family will improve your relationship with your teen and even strengthen their self-confidence. Teens seeks approval from their parents and they want you to be proud of them; showing your teen that you care and trust them will lessen their desire to seek approval from other places.