Social media dilemma

Report content

AD (nearly 13) is a keen user of Instagram Direct messaging, which in effect allows you to do the same as mobile phone texting (different from posting for all your followers to see). It's the way she stays in contact with friends from school - as it's a specialist school they all live scattered across the South West and AD can't meet up with them out of school. Just as with texting, it takes a single flick of a finger to delete these private message streams. I do some light touch monitoring of her messaging, which I've told her I'll do but she has clearly forgotten. If I made it part of our every day, AD would simply delete all her messages after sending. My main concern is to ensure that she doesn't get into deep trouble, e.g. being groomed or sexually explicit messaging, and I don't want to ban Instagram as she wouldn't be able to keep in contact with her friends. I also want her to learn to use social media sensibly, and not hide her use from me. AD doesn't have a smart phone, but has access to an iPad at home (for downstairs use only).

For the most part, her messaging is absolutely fine, but she occasionally uses awful language when she's annoyed about something one of her 'friends' has used - complaining in graphic terms to another friend (e.g. xx is a f**k*** b***h). I do occasionally remain her in general terms never to use such language about another person/swear in anger, and clearly I need to have another such conversation with her. In the past I have, e.g., banned her favourite films (Pitch Perfect) in which there is bad language, when she is going through a swearing phase.

Nothing has really worked so far. Any thoughts on how to help her move on from using such dreadful language particularly about other people?

1Be the first user to support this

I have a very sweary 13 year old girl. I don't think she direct messages on Instagram much but her gang uses snap chat a lot.

She is now very cautious about what she says on any of those platforms as some of her gang got into big trouble at school last year.

Mean sweary messages were sent and a fed up recipient screen grabbed them and thus created a permanent record. The school came down on the perps very heavily.

Presumably you can screen grab Instagram DMs the same way...

My line is that there is nothing DD can say or do online that is private and untraceable. She's an anxious girl so this has been enough to make her think. If you have a risk taker on your hands perhaps getting the school to reinforce might help?

Best wishes

Guinea pig

9 users have supported this.

I think the bigger issue is her swearing in something that can be saved / shown to others. Swearing itself is probably used widely amongst her age group and as long as she doesn't use it openly at home I don't think its too much of a problem - though not very nice of course and you would want to remind her of that. You are right that you don't want to approach anything in such a way as she knows you have been checking her phone from time to time as she would then delete everything or password protect it in such a way that you couldn't do this and it is good to have a way of checking what is going on when kids are so vulnerable. Maybe have a conversation with her about how the written messages can be shown to others - they can be misunderstood and also misrepresented as well as hard to forget when the friendships move on. How would she feel if shown messages another girls had written about her which were harsh without having the chance to defend herself? As Guinea Pig suggests above you could maybe involve school or someone else in this - but again in a very general way - as something they could address for all kids. This sort of problem comes up all the time in the news etc when things are said on Twitter / social media which are hard to retract and easy to misinterpret - and you could used examples from these to start a discussion. Then - depending on the severity and context (if said to the person directly or to others about them) there is the bullying aspect to consider.

6 users have supported this.

I have a fairly sweary 15 year old when angry, upset or thwarted. With my AD I think that her swearing is a combination of thinking that it is "cool and grown up" in front of her friends (really??) and a way of trying to hurt other people without physical violence (luckily my AD is not physically violent; unluckily she can be incredibly verbally violent).

Now I think about it the swearing (to us at least) is almost always when angry because thwarted. On Social Media it is almost always because someone has done something that has upset her.

I'm not sure that there is much that I can do to correct this behaviour because when calm AD knows that it isn't doing the right thing and when she does it she is angry or upset or thwarted so all rationality goes totally out of the window. And she knows that we don't like it which in these circumstances makes it all the more appealing for her to say these things - she is trying to get a response and I know from experience that responding is the very worst thing that I could do.

So, what I tend to do is one of:

* Ignore

* Ask her to leave the room (the Social Media equivalent would be to take her device away for a period of time)

* Ask her how she thinks X might feel reading what she has written; and how she would feel if she read it about herself

* Repeat what she has said in a totally deadpan voice along the lines of "I really don't like being called a xxx; I don't think that you would like to be called that either, would you?" (can't think of a Social Media equivalent for this one at the moment)

* Ask her what she thinks that the word or phrase actually means - I don't do this last one often but sometimes it works, depending on her mood / attitude - followed by a wondering question about why X might be like a whatever and how ridiculous it might be to say that they were.

So, to answer your question about how to help her to move on from this dreadful language, if your AD is anything like mine then the I don't think that you can "move her on". You might encourage her to move herself on by calm questioning but it really is something that she will need to work out for herself.

On the monitoring of Social Media use I would do "spot checks" - nothing regular just the occasional "let's have a look at what you've been doing online; I told you that I would do this from time to time" sort of thing and I would do it with her present and often enough so that she knows that it might happen but not often enough that she goes down the delete everything as soon as sent route.

We are also very attuned to AD's language when speaking to us about her "friends" - we usually know or can sense when she has fallen out with one of them (let's face it there aren't that many so not particularly difficult) so that might also be a time to wade in or not (depending on your daughter's likely reaction).

Not sure that I've actually given you any helpful advice but perhaps shared experience is helpful?

Good luck.


11 users have supported this.

Shared experience, advice and understanding all really welcome. Thank you. Much to think about.

1Be the first user to support this

Oh, and just for comedic value and whilst talking about bad language, my AS (now Dirol was taught a new word by one of his little friends at school term before last. AS decided to make up a song about it:

It went something along the lines of:

F***, f***, f***ity f***

F*** f*** f***


He taught it to the whole of his class. Little friend wrote the main word on the whiteboard (apparently), just so that everyone was clear.

Call from the deputy head that afternoon. "Unacceptable behaviour"; "should know better". I'm afraid that I just laughed and said "Sian, at least you're not ringing me to tell me that he has hit someone ...".

Unacceptable? Yes, probably - almost certainly; but in the grand scheme of things I couldn't get even a bit worked up about this. He didn't know what the word meant but did know that it was a "naughty" word so he played it for all he could get and got lots of attention from a lot of people as a consequence. Go figure!

As I said, just for comedic value ...


19 users have supported this.

I don't know where that bubblegum blowing emoticon came from - it was supposed to just reference that my son is now eight years old.

12 users have supported this.

I have a 14 year old boy who has used Instagram and now Snapchat. Bad language is par for the course I am afraid and not just from him. A lot of his friends use bad language all the time on social media but if you meet them in person they are nice and polite. I am noticing that as he and his cohorts are growing up and maturing, the bad language and unpleasant messaging is diminishing.

I was a sweary child when I was out and about, but I wouldn't have dared to have sworn at home.

I have had numerous conversations with him about not doing it to others, and I did actually screen shot one particular nasty message sent to him which also involved a threat to hurt him the following day in school. I passed it on to the school and according to him the other child and the parent of the other chld was spoken to. This, I think more than anything, made him aware of what he was saying might bite him on the bum later down the line.

11 users have supported this.