Heyyy middle schoolers who feel like the whole world is allowed to have social media except for you! Your parents are very hesitant about social media but you’re ready to have a calm conversation and convince them that you’re ready.
Side note: My best friend has Instagram but not Snapchat. She is PERFECTLY content with this choice (although I tell her it’d be easier than voice memos on iMessage to communicate haha) and has never bought into this drug of an app. I’m assuming you do want social media, but it’s also ok to be fine without it. You don’t have to be on social media just because everyone else is… these apps suck you into a toxic, harmful, and distorted environment. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
Ok let's talk about how you’re going to persuade your parents that you’re ready for social media.
Right Place, Right Time
I think this goes for every serious conversation that you have with your parents, choose a time to talk with them when they seem to be in a good mood, not flustered or already upset with you for something else.
Don’t bring up this topic with your parents every second you’re around them because this will probably just irritate them more and they’ll try to shut down the conversation before it can even begin.
Make sure your parents are situated in a place in your house where they have few distractions and can be fully focused on what you’re talking about.
Let me now walk you through your lines of argument. I’ll give you some bullet point ideas which you can then manipulate and expand upon in your own way.
Step 1: Reasons Why You Want Social Media
Modern form of communication
Keeping in touch with friends from camp, preschool, childhood friends, mutuals from school
Staying Informed about pop culture and trends (memes, dances, and the language of my generation)
Displaying your creativity (photography, videos, etc)
Social Awareness (using social media to take political action)
Platform to use your voice to spread positivity
All job descriptions require that applicants be very fluent in the language of social media.
Honestly, you just feel left out
Step 2: Reasons Why I Am Ready For Social Media
I maintain high grades
I am great at managing time
I am responsible about what I post
I already have good communication with my parents and am not afraid to ask for help if needed
I will be unprepared for my high school years when social media will be a part of my life and I won’t have had the time and experiences like the rest of my generation to manage these platforms.
Step 3: Refuting Their Best Arguments and Addressing Their Concerns
“You might send nudes or talk to a drug dealer on social media”
I would hope that you know your daughter and know that I wouldn’t make poor decisions like this. My hopes of getting this app are to communicate with only my closest friends and people that I know.
“Bad people are on the internet”
You’re right… this is true but I will make sure that I keep a private account and only admit followers that I know. If I ever come across something sketchy or dangerous, I will make sure to let you know and ask for help.
“Colleges might check your accounts”
I will keep all my accounts private
“You will become addicted”
I can start off with some time limits on these apps and once I have proven that I can handle social media, more freedom will come. I will only log into social media after I finish my homework for the day.
“I’m afraid you’re going to be hurt when you see online that you were left out of something”
I can't hide from the possibility that my friends aren't who I thought they were. This will help me develop a thick skin and it’s a part of growing up in this decade. We can only hope that this doesn’t happen if I don’t know about it but I’d rather know that my friends are hanging out without me so that I can realize that these aren’t my true friends.
“You don’t have time for this”
Due to corona, I have a lot more time now and don’t get to see my friends as much. It would be nice to have a casual way to keep in touch and get closer with everyone.
“Your photos disappear on Snapchat and we are uncomfortable with this”
I understand how snapchat might make you nervous because someone could take a screenshot. I understand that everything is permanent and I have to be careful. I will only snapchat with my close friends and make sure to be responsible on snapchat.
“We don’t want you exposed to inappropriate content”
Your concern about me being exposed to inappropriate content is definitely valid but at the same time, I can be exposed to inappropriate content on the regular internet. The probability that I may come across one inappropriate photo is SO slim (I won’t be following any suspect accounts of course) and this shouldn’t be a leading reason that prevents me from enjoying the more positive aspects of these apps.
“I'm scared you’ll get kidnapped”
Again, I’ll keep my accounts private. Also anyone on the internet can be kidnapped even just through texts or safari. Social media won’t change this reality. It’s scary of course but this isn’t something to be terribly afraid of.
Step 4: Let’s Compromise
Suggest the following compromises to your parents
I can help you set up your own account so you can monitor what I’m posting
I will check in with you before I post on instagram
You can look through my phone if you are concerned about something
I can download the apps on your phone first and do a trial run on your phone before I download on my phone
You can put time limits on my apps so I don’t get addicted
Start off with Instagram, see how it goes, then add snap.
I know I’m busy finishing up school right now but maybe I can try out social media in the beginning of the summer when I have more time? Can we agree on that?
What are some suggestions that you (as my parents) have for meeting me in the middle on this?
I believe this conversation shouldn’t be about an IF I should get social media but about HOW we can agree on an appropriate way to use this app.
I understand that there are pros and cons to having social media and I know you care a lot about me. I am so glad that you care so much about my safety! But… on the real, we are living in the 21st century. If people still used the telephone and made calls, this wouldn’t be an issue. If all my best friends didn’t use snapchat, this wouldn’t be an issue. If I could choose for it not to exist, I would, but pretending like it's not something I think about all the time and feeling left out of is making this all worse. Every restaurant, clothing line, soccer team, ballerina, scientist, and my entire generation (let alone everyone in my grade) is given the opportunity to explore this pretty amazing tool.
I’m going to be driving in a few years and college is not that far away. Social media is a small step towards a bit of freedom that I want to prove to you I am ready for. I know you want to protect me from the real world but at the end of the day, continuing to make social media a point of conflict in our relationship will be a disservice to me in the future.
This conversation is a matter of trust. Do you trust that I will make good decisions online? If the answer is no, this is a bigger issue that we should talk about.
I think parents can definitely be swayed by the parenting choices of their friends and the experiences of your close peers but your parents might not necessarily care about other families' rules. Bring up some examples to help strengthen your point but don’t make the whole conversation super competitive.
Being willing to accept the ‘no’ respectfully from your parents on this first try but then lay off for a week or two and then bring it up again. Like I said in the beginning, don’t push it with your parents but also persistence and etiquette is key.
Notes from the editor (aka the strict mom)
Hi girls. Mamma Monday here. I was pretty strict about letting Sophia enter into the world of social media. We started out with agreeing to a ‘family tech policy’ (no sharing of private information online, no tech at meals, no phones in the bedroom, etc), mostly to impress upon our kids the importance of protecting their privacy and preserving some ‘tech free’ havens in our home. In 5th grade, Sophia was desperate to use the musically app (precursor to tik tok) ...and then after we allowed that, she put instagram on my phone only and until I became comfortable with her posting choices and time management. On her 12th birthday, we migrated instagram to her phone on condition that she had to let both parents follow her. Snapchat was a bigger issue for me because it really does shut parents out since it’s mostly used for private individual chats and not public posts. Honestly, I’ve never really gotten comfortable with snapchat, not because I want to snoop on my children, but more because I couldn’t wrap my arms around the disappearing photos and conversations and the pace of it. However, social media is not disappearing and in order to use these tools tactfully, it just requires an element of “learn as you go” and hopefully dodging making hard mistakes by being prudent along the way. To the parents: it is HARD to have your daughter see peers getting together and not including her. That is part of the journey of seeing who your friends really are and getting used to not taking things too personally. Preventing her from having the app just keeps her out of touch and in the dark and maladroit with the culture around her. These teenage years can be difficult so try to understand where your daughter is coming from and be on her team!
Again (and I can't stress this enough), show your parents that you are mature enough for social media by being able to have a respectful conversation. Try to suppress your emotions and anger if they arise and keep an even temper.
We got this,