We can all agree that social media and the broader scope of the internet have some dark corners to them.
But with how prominent these resources have become in our lives, parents question if it’s better to educate their children about using them, or continue to shield their children from them, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor aitasocialsm was uncomfortable with the idea of their daughter, who was only 13, already entering the world of social media.
But when stopping her began to impact her relationship with her friends, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were being too harsh about opening an account.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for not allowing my daughter to use social media and in turn cutting her off from her friends?”
The OP’s daughter had repeatedly asked for her first social media account.
“My daughter (13 Female) is leaving school for the summer soon. She’s been going on about getting Snapchat for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve consistently said no.”
“Last month she tried to make a secret account behind my back, and she was punished by having her phone taken away up until recently.”
“She’s been getting increasingly desperate, telling me I’m ruining her summer. Her friends only communicate through Snapchat groups, and she’s being left out of all their summer plans because she isn’t in the group.”
The OP questioned the quality of their daughter’s friends.
“I simply told her if they weren’t willing to communicate by other means, they weren’t true friends and she can do better.”
“I also pointed out she’ll be in some clubs over the summer so she can make new friends. These ones obviously aren’t willing to adapt for her.”
“She hates me, obviously, and has been down in the dumps.”
Others criticized the OP’s reluctance to set up an account.
“My ex has contacted me recently and told me to lighten up, but I told her our daughter has already proven she can’t be trusted by going behind my back in the first place.”
“No one seems to be on my side and I’m half-tempted to just give in.”
“People chastise you for allowing your teen on social media and then call you abusive when you don’t allow it. You can’t win.”
“AITA? I do know her friends mean a lot to her.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the OP was cruel for what they said about their daughter’s friends.
“Why should the friends have to adapt for one person? Everyone is busy and it’s kinda self-centered to expect social accommodation for something like that.”
“I’m in my 40s and wouldn’t have Facebook except I know that’s where events are usually planned.”
“Teaching your kid that her friends are not her real friends unless they jump through some weird hoops for her is toxic. People shouldn’t have to prove them-self by passing your friendship tests. You’re setting your kid up for social failure.”
“I get being cautious with social media, but teach your kid of the dangers. Don’t just cut them off from it if it’s the way their friend group plans events.” – vicki_chicki
“A lot of the time when you make plans on social media the details are spread out among a bunch of different messages, some of which contradict each other. The details might not be finalized until right before everyone meets up.”
“That makes it difficult to include someone who’s not getting the messages at the ‘we send you the details after we figure everything out’ level, let alone the ‘you get to weigh in on where we go and what we do’ level.” – looc64
“The OP is also treating their daughter’s friends as totally disposable accessories, which is just gross. Sure, she is not likely to be friends with most of them in 20 years but they are super important to her right now.” – 0biterdicta
“Way to tell your kid she’s the one who’s unlikeable with no ‘real friends’ BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU’RE CONTROLLING HER EVERY MOVE.”
“YTA.” – UrielsWedding
“I thought the attitude that they put her in ‘clubs’ over the summer and she can ‘make new friends’ is really trivializing the daughter’s experience here.”
“Anyone who has ever been 13 knows you can’t just ‘make new friends at camp’ or whatever. This is her core school friend group. It’s kind of a crucial time for her.” – orangemoonboots
“Honestly, why would she even bother making friends at summer camps and clubs when she won’t be allowed to contact them once school starts again. I bet they also use Snapchat or Whatsapp or something.”
“Adults who treat teenage relationships as insignificant and disposable, when to a teen, their friend group is their whole life, is really cruel.”
“YTA.” – resilientspirit
“YTA. Not heavily, but I was convinced at ‘if they can’t communicate through other means, you can do better.’ That basically infers she should drop a whole group of friends cos they have a social app you don’t want your daughter to have.”
“To that end, Snapchat has multiple features that make accounts secure from outsiders if that’s what’s worrying you. By default all stories and chats are private, between those she has added, so she’d be completely safe as long as she sticks to her group of friends.”
“I understand your concerns, but ultimately this isn’t fair IMO (in my opinion).” – ld1101xbl
Others created a win-win situation with the daughter having social media on the OP’s terms.
“Make sure her location is turned off and that she personally knows all the people she’s friends with on Snapchat. Do this by setting up an agreement with her that you can look at her app settings and contacts periodically.”
“Have honest conversations about what is appropriate to put online and what isn’t, and how your social media usage can impact your life. OP just has to be willing to put some work and serious thought into it.” – m-is-for-music
“I have an 11-year-old who uses Snapchat to talk to his out-of-school club basketball friends. The account is set up with my email, and I set the password. I check who he is friends with to make sure I know all of them and sometimes will do spot inspections of his chats.”
“We’ve also discussed what’s appropriate and what’s not as well as what he is supposed to do if he sees something that is not right ie: bullying, inappropriate pics, etc.” – SureokayIguess1
“OP needs to up their tech game as a parent. His worry about social media is 100% true. I was seeing s**t at 12 on the internet that I would absolutely freak out about if my nephew saw it.”
“Nowadays though a lot of social media apps can be configured (though the companies do not advertise this much if at all and it can be confusing).”
“I say let her have Snapchat, set up her account and make it private and install a couple of technologies on her phone that allows you to keep better watch of her (cut that s**t out at 16 though, because at that point it’s better to develop a mutual trust than to be the watcher).” – DatumInTheStone
“My friend had Snapchat when that location sharing thing first came out for it.”
“She would show me the map and laugh about how ‘it looks like this person is being left out,’ because they were on vacation in another state, and on the map, it looked like all her friends were having a party in our state, and the one ‘left out’ is on the other side of the country by themself.”
“It’s honestly just handing the bullies ‘you aren’t cool enough to hang out with us’ joke opportunities on a silver platter IMO (in my opinion).” – Peachbowtie
“Under location sharing, there’s an option to share your location with ‘only these friends.’ My cousin and her kids have their location on and only share it with each other. This way mom and kids know where each other are but they’re not broadcasting it to everyone.”
“That could be a solution, OP also downloads Snapchat and OP and daughter only share location with each other.” – leafah
“OP is also making the mistake, whether accidentally or maliciously, of all-or-nothing. It’s not absolute: you don’t have to cut off your child from social media, and you don’t let her run free and wild.”
“You have to do the legwork. You have to make the effort to be involved in her communications. You have to monitor, supervise, and provide support, as well as know when to back off and let her have her privacy.”
“That’s your job as her parent, and you don’t get to say, ‘Oh, I can’t win, it’s all or nothing.'”
“YTA. Put in the work.” – GrumpyGreenWitch
“It doesn’t have to be ‘everything on the phone is allowed now.’ Just pick a few of the most popular or safest social media platforms, or even just start with one. And set it up with some limits and some supervision and see how it goes!”
“Mild YTA, OP, for expecting a bunch of teenagers to change their entire culture’s way of communicating just to ask your daughter what’s up in a way more satisfactory way to you.”
“I was tying up the landline with my friends all summer (it was the 80s). Imagine if my mom said if my friends really loved me, they’d invest in a footman to carry notes to my house.” – Agreeable-Celery811
While the subReddit could understand the OP’s concerns about their child’s online safety, they felt the OP was going about it the wrong way. By restricting their daughter to this extent, they were likely impacting her friendships, let alone the quality of their parent-daughter relationship.