My daughter is doing WHAT on Facebook?

Teen girls Facebook and texting addiction

Why does your teen daughter eat, sleep and seemingly try to bathe with her phone? Why does she post pictures of herself “posing” on Facebook? This post about teen girls and social media is a summary of “Online Confidential: What girls Do Online, Why They Do It, and How to Parent Through it,” a presentation by educator, author, and speaker Rachel Simmons at the Millersville University Anna Funk Lockey Lecture.

Like moths to a flame
Teen girls are addicted to social media. Why exclusively teen girls? Because it’s their nature to be addicted to relationships. During this phase of their lives, relationships define a teen girl’s social status. Therefore, texting, Facebook and other social media – all connection tools – are irresistibly attractive. The longer the friends list the better. To teen girls, the Facebook wall is a powerful social status soothsayer meting out condescension and compliments in real time. Cell phones are on 24 hours a day as they read and respond to texts instead of sleeping. Teen girls today are so embedded in social media they believe they don’t exist without it.

Facebook – The perfect medium for teen girl aggression
This is a harsh reality for many parents to face. Most teen girls participate in a day to day nastiness with one another online. A seemingly innocent Facebook status update like “Having fun at Tara’s party” is written for one reason only – to notify everyone else they weren’t invited. Often other attendees follow up with comments like “best time everrrr” or “I’m glad I remembered my bathing suit” driving home the point they are the chosen ones. It’s the nature of teen girls to rank others and create hierarchies. On Facebook, girls use the family list for this. Parents aren’t listed as parents. Instead, “besties” or best friends are listed as parents and/or siblings. When a teen girl deletes another girl from her family list she is also making a public statement about an ended friendship. Everyone sees the demotion because Facebook automatically posts family list changes. Cryptic Facebook status messages are another common way teen girls intentionally insult one another. For example, a girl may write, “I will ram my fist down ur throat haha” as a status update. The haha at the end makes it look like the writer is kidding when in most instances she is quite serious about her aggression. To top it off, all of her friends know exactly who the writer is referencing. All of this leads to more aggression during the school day.

Do guys like me?
Ever wonder why teen girls are constantly taking pictures of themselves and posting them on Facebook? Girls use social media to verify they’re attractive. Often these pictures receive a multitude of comments such as “ur sooo pretty” to “hottttt” from both boys and girls. Depending on how addicted the girl is to this kind of attention, pictures typically become more and more daring. Other questions girls use social media to answer are: What do people think of me? Why wasn’t I invited? Do I have enough friends?

The Paradox
Teen girls use social media to project the perfect image of themselves and soothe the social insecurities they typically feel. Unfortunately, like all addictions, chronic participation makes them feel worse rather than better. Look at the facts. Girls ages 8 – 18 spend 8 complete hours a day on electronic media. 7th through 12th grade girls send an average of 3,000 texts a month. The exhausting task of keeping up with real time social media during every free moment, the cyberdrama of who is invited to what, and the natural desire to be accepted and liked by hundreds and hundreds of “friends” just doesn’t work. Yet, teen girls are irrevocably drawn to it, day after day. The fact is, social media is not deep or rich enough to substitute for real life. Girls need limits.

Parents must step in
The norm today is teen girls, instead of parents, are in charge of their social media use. Parents need to step in and help their children see social media and technology as a privilege, not a right. Parents, you’re entitled to have your child’s Facebook password and if you allow your child to use Facebook then it is also your job to randomly check your child’s account. Set time limits on social media use. Do not allow phones in bed. Remind your child that safe, responsible use of social media means not using other people’s passwords and accounts, not sharing embarrassing photos, not forwarding embarrassing photos, and not humiliating or harming others. If your child can’t abide by these rules then she needs a social media time out. Remember, just because your child knows how to use technology doesn’t mean she automatically knows how to use it responsibly.

_________

As the owner of a digital marketing and design company, I know the benefits social media can bring to businesses. As the parent of a daughter who is now a sophomore in college, I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness Facebook and texting addiction first hand. My teen loudly objected each and every time I set limits. Nevertheless, those limits guaranteed her sleep filled nights as well as some solid study time.  To all parents of teen girls who plan to set limits – Stay strong. It’s worth every effort.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About Catherine Lockey

Catherine Lockey @oz2designs | oz 2 designs LLC

, , , , ,

41 Responses to My daughter is doing WHAT on Facebook?

  1. Nathan Smoyer March 28, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Great article Catherine! I travel the country speaking at elementary schools on a regular basis covering the topic of bullying. “Cyber bullying” has taken the topic to a whole new level. I was recently at a elementary school In upstate NY where nearly 90% of children’s hands raised when asked if they use the internet daily – that’s not the scary part. Well over HALF of the children have a Facebook account AND use it daily. I run an internet marketing company and social media is a big part of my life. The addictive hook social media can have on youth (and as you narrowed in on teenage girls) is quite scary.

    Here is an interesting story about two school Principals from NJ and their opposing views on social media use in their schools. http://huff.to/dEduQ4

  2. Dennis Salvatier March 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I wouldn’t mind if facebook was gone by the time I had kids, because this website is the source of so many problems when it comes to kids these days. It’s ridiculous. There are so many questions in regards to this site and when is the right time to let your kid use it. I think we live in a society where everyone is demanding their 15 minutes of fame. They want to flood their friends with everything that is their life, so matter how mundane and incoherent. I had a niece with a facebook and I constantly shake my head when I see her updates.

  3. Catherine Lockey March 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Hi Nathan,
    Thanks for your response – very interesting u teach about bullying. We should connect in person some time. The prevalence of cyberbullying amongst teen girls is scary. Even more disturbing is how few parents are aware of their own child’s behavior online. Simmons, the presenter who I wrote about, explained kids lose their inhibitions online. Even the nicest girl at home is often posting aggressive or cruel cryptic status messages etc… They’ve created their own little “Lord of the Flies” world and parents absolutely must step in and use this as an opportunity to teach values.

  4. Catherine Lockey March 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I have to agree Dennis. Remember, your niece is in the norm. Parents of teen girls need to understand teen girls define their social status by their relationships which is why social media is so addictive to this group. I say the longer any parent can put off buying their teen texting or allowing social media use – the better. High school was when I allowed it and it was tough.It’s also surprising how mean even the sweetest girls can be on Facebook – and most parents don’t have a clue! Think about the impact their texting and FB obsession has on their studies. I’ll tell you from personal experience – social media time outs were hell for ME – because my daughter would have a fit every time. Social media and technology has unwittingly created a very difficult situation for parents of daughters.

  5. Lauri B March 29, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Great article Catherine. I only have one teen son and the social status stuff for him is nothing like it is for my nieces. He loves keeping up with all the riff raff that he sees and asks why girls are “so emotional and mean.” He’s not the least bit interested in entering the conversation and is soon drawn away from the emotional highs and lows to put his thoughts into finding just the right buy on a car. My husband and I do, however, heavily monitor his use of texting and computer/electronic device use because we still pay the bills. Technology has created a difficult situation for parents of teens period – for our son it manifests itself in a complete discontent with what he has, more so than any TV advertising could have ever offered not to mention all of the electronic images that don’t come under the heading of pornography but rather advertising. Our best line of defense is to stay engaged with him and all the technology of his day.

  6. Rob Berman March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Your story talked about 8 year olds so I have less than one year for my daughter to start with all of this. Interestingly she will e-mail while my 12 year old son will not. My 9 year old niece has been on Facebook for over a year. We can follow her love life and inappropriate pictures now. Hopefully, not something my daughter will do.

    Rob

  7. Keyuri Joshi March 29, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    This post saddened me as a parent but inspired me in “potentials” as a parenting coach who works with other parents. The last paragraph has good applicable points but the bottom line is that parents have to be able to follow through with them. Often times, parents know what to do, but fall short because they feel sorry for their kids, or they get hooked by the “everybody else is doing it” bait. Many parents simply lack the courage to set limits and enforce them with discipline and consistency. If parents can step up to the plate and get the job done, their is no doubt that we can raise a generation of kids with noble values, high self esteem, and strong work ethic not to mention so more.

  8. Catherine Lockey March 29, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks for your comment Lauri. There is a big difference between the way boys and girls use social media. Simmons explained that a boy is flirting with a girl when he asks her to send him a picture of herself. Because teen boys define their social value by the number of pretty girls who like them, they tend to collect pictures on their phones and show these picture to all of their friends. Girls, who crave attention, don’t realize their daring photo is going to be part of a collection that will be shared. If you have a boy, a good place to check in would be his smartphone photo gallery. If you find a “collection” you’ll have an opportunity to teach responsibility.

  9. Catherine Lockey March 29, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Hi Rob, I hope you forward this post to your family members so they’re aware of what they’re dealing with. Boys do participate in irresponsible use of technology too – in a different way. My response to Lauri B. explains how.

  10. Catherine Lockey March 29, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Hi Keyuri,
    I knew you would find this post enlightening. Even I, owner of a digital marketing and design company, didn’t have the full picture of my daughter’s social media behaviors. She’s 20 now, attended Simmon’s presentation with me and validated everything we learned. Simmons explains girls are like crackheads with their phones. Try taking crack from a crackhead – girls react the same way when parents take their phones. They lie (say things like “I need my phone – it’s my alarm clock) manipulate, scream and yell, slam doors. It’s a nightmare. Once the phone is returned the addiction returns. It NEVER gets easier. The stories I could tell you – and the whole time I was such a “mean” mom. It sucked – for years.

  11. Catarina Alexon March 29, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Good article Catherine. You are so right they are addicted. Will forward it to people I know with teenage daughters. They will benefit from reading this.

  12. Catherine Lockey March 29, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Thanks Catarina. The more parents who know the more supportive they can be of one another.

  13. Keyuri Joshi March 29, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I hear you Catherine. No fun being the “mean mom”. I’ve been there and will visit again this afternoon (you don’t want to know ;)) That’s why parenting is by far the hardest job on the planet!

  14. Janet @ The Natural Networker March 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Catherine, aloha. What an amazing post this is. Not having children, I had no idea of so much of this. This information is I am going to share with friends so that they can share it with others.

    Keyuri, wouldn’t something like this be good to show parents at PTA meetings or the like? It seems there should be an effective way of getting this important information out so that parents can be more aware.

    Thx so much, Catherine, for the clarity of your information and its compelling message. Aloha. Janet

  15. Renee Dittrich March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Catherine,
    Although I don’t have a teenager, or a daughter, good info. I will pass along to friends who do have teenagers.

  16. Catherine Lockey March 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Thank you Janet. I lived this with my teen daughter and thought I was alone. It seemed I was the only parent who set limits on social media time and texting – and, because it’s a full-fledged addiction, I was dealing with an unrelenting obstacle to my daughter’s future success.

  17. Catherine Lockey March 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Thank you Renee. Parents need this information to prepare for the battle to come!

  18. Dianne March 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Ah, Facebook…the double-edged sword. Yes, my daughter has an account–which I monitor and she rarely uses–however, recently, a middle school girl acted quite ugly, first calling her a “brat” then asking “why” she should friend her, followed by an “okay, I will be nice and accept you” to which I promplty replied in her stead, “my mistake, no thanks.”

    And this is a family friend. Can’t wait to see what else she has in store!

  19. Catherine Lockey March 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Diane – I gather your daughter is not yet in middle school. If possible, please take her off of facebook and don’t buy her texting. The addiction problem is the norm exclusively for teen girls and you seriously cannot imagine the trouble it will bring you. Simmons recommends putting off FB and texting as long as possible.

  20. Dianne March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    I agree. The only reason she even has a facebook account is because it was my first “experiment” with facebook using an extranneous email address I have on hand. We’ve discussed these issues and she understands why she doesn’t have a phone and/or texting capability because it does become obsessive. As she read your above article, she said, “Mom, I don’t do any of that. I’m hardly online at all.”

    She even realizes that if she DID have a phone, she WOULD be texting all of the time.

    For the time being, I’ll count my blessings for her sensiblity, although I won’t fool myself into thinking it will remain forever. At eleven, she’s young, fifth grade, not yet interested in boys, still content with her family and close friends.

    Unlike some of her contemporaries.

  21. Catherine Lockey March 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    The insanity comes with the hormones Diane. Enjoy the time you have left! lol

  22. Sherry Zander March 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    You’re right — this is a quality post. I no longer have teenage girls, but every parent of teenagers, in general, should read this one. Although, it is difficult to do it, parents DO need to take charge of their teens’ social networking by monitoring it. I think it’s also important to spend time with your teen away from the computer, iPad, iPod and other technological tools to keep a balance. It is soooo easy for busy parents to let their teens do whatever they want. It takes greater effort to create and foster engagement in the family unit. Social media has a tendency to distance kids from parents and family members. A good balance allows them to socialize, but not lose sight of the value of family.

  23. Catherine Lockey March 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi Sherry – You’re right and monitoring your teen’s real time social media use is extremely time consuming. Let me explain. Most schools expect students to use the internet for research. Every time my daughter was on a “social media time out” I would inevitably hear from her she was required to do research online. I would check the assignment and yes – it was true. Then, it became my job to attempt to monitor her online behavior during the many hours she was researching and writing. Often I would catch her messaging friends while she was working and she’d explain that they were helping her with her homework. Sometimes they were, sometimes they weren’t. This is just a small slice of what it’s like to raise a teen girl in the digital age. There is NO way to simplify it. My heart goes out to all parents of teen girls today.

  24. Adeline Ashley March 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Truly a very insightful post on the power of Facebook and its influence on teenage girls’ behavior and social interactions. I am a mom to a 7 year old boy but have a niece and many friends with young daughters. I will share this post with them.

  25. Rani Chopra March 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Great article.I dont have a teenage daughter but everytime I hear about the evils of social media, I stop to think of how necessary it is for parents to be involved in their childrens’ lives and monitor and supervise things without being too interfering.

  26. Catherine Lockey March 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Glad u like it Adeline. I think of it more as teen girl influence on Facebook. Facebook isn’t a culprit – it’s just the perfect medium for teen girls use in an irresponsible manner. It is their nature to be addicted to relationships, to rank those around them, and to behave immaturely.

  27. Catherine Lockey March 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Hi Rani, social media is not inherently evil, it simply amplifies the relationship addiction teen girls naturally have. Try monitoring and supervising anything with a teen girl and I promise you – you will be interfering. This is parenting. We interfere.

  28. Jeannette Paladino April 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    There is so much peer pressure to be on Facebook interacting with your friends. Children feel invulnerable and can’t foresee the consequences of what they consider a simple post that could come back to haunt them for years go come. Especially nowadays, colleges are using search to learn more about applicants and screening out the ones who have used inappropriate photos or language on social media. Maybe there is a site that has horror stories about social media that parents can show their kids to make the point that what’s on the internet lives forever.

  29. Jill Tooley April 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    This post got the gears turning in my brain. It’s a relief that Facebook didn’t exist when I was a preteen/teenager; that would have been just one more way to get ridiculed by classmates! There seems to be a serious communication breakdown among this age group. Is there a single teenager nowadays who doesn’t have a Facebook account? On a similar note, I see more kids texting than I see actually talking to one another, and that saddens me a bit. Someday we’ll all communicate via text, email, and status update and never speak…

    Have you read the recent reports that about 80% of US children between the ages of 0 and 5 use the Internet on a weekly basis? That’s mind-boggling! I couldn’t imagine having online access at that early of an age. How scary! http://mashable.com/2011/03/14/children-internet-stats/

  30. Zulma Mendez April 4, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Catherine, yes thank you for posting this. This was a very great article – I agree there has to be boundaries, guidelines and expectations set for our children now and days. This day and age parents have to be 20 steps ahead of their children. I want to also let everyone know of another website that is getting pretty popular amongst our children that I have found out about it is called Chatroulette – it is a website that pairs random strangers around the world together for a webcam- based conversation, but let me tell you – These teenagers (boys and girls) are using it for other purposes such as exposing their body parts to these strangers. This is happening in our area. As parents we SERIOUSLY need to monitor our children and the sites that they are on. It is very scary.

  31. Catherine Lockey April 4, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Hi Zulma – it’s great to see you here. Thank you for informing us about Chatroulette – absolutely – all parents need to be aware this social site is completely inappropriate for kids and teens. wow. disturbing.

  32. Sherryl Perry April 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    It’s completely frightening seeing what some of the young girls are posting on their Facebook pages. I have two teenage nieces on Facebook and thankfully, my 30-year old daughter is friends with both of them. She keeps them in check. The youngest(14) posted some fairly provocative pictures. We both believe it was innocent on her part but a few words from my daughter (privately) and she immediately took them down. Sometimes their innocence makes them especially vulnerable online.

  33. Catherine Lockey April 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Teen girls by nature check in with peers to affirm they’re attractive which is one of the reasons Facebook and girls mix at high speed. Your nieces are fortunate to have a role model who is also their FB friend.

  34. Adriana May 27, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    Great post Catherine!
    Just wanted to say that in my country, and maybe not only, some of the parents don’t even use the computer or navigate the Internet, but their teenage children do. They don’t even know what their children are posting on Facebook – provocative pictures, location details, unsuited comments and more.
    I think there should be a Facebook authority or something that didn’t allow under aged children to post certain photos (with nudity etc) or information on their profile.

  35. Kyle-Beth Hilfer June 3, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    As a social media attorney, I see the power of Facebook and the unique opportunities it gives to businesses. As the parent of teenage daughters, I also see the dangers of Facebook. Sociologically, it has transformed human interactions and created a generation of passive/aggressive communicators. It has taken mutlitasking and distraction to a whole new level. And practically, it creates real dangers for a generation that does not know how to filter themselves from a legal perspective. Facebook posts are going to be the next wave of evidence in litigations, just as emails are now. It is even worse now, however, than with emails because this young generation has lost sight of privacy as a commodity. Catherine, while you may feel you were alone in those years as a “mean mom”, believe me you are not alone. I work in this space professionally and so personally I am pretty “mean” as well. There does come a point when you have to allow interaction in order for them to have a social life, but a parent can let out the leash slowly, once the teen has earned trust by demonstrating good values and sound judgment. That is faster or slower depending on the teen. Just the way a brand seeks to protect its intellectual property, its trade secrets, and its reputation, parents have that responsibility with their teens to protect their privacy, their reputation, and their futures. THe only way to do that is to make unpopular decisions at times. We don’t allow our businesses to run amok in social media; why allow one’s teen to do the same?

  36. Catherine Lockey June 3, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Well said Kyle-Beth. It starts with simple awareness – many parents are locked out of their teen’s account in full or in part and don’t even know what’s going on. Thank you for your insightful (and compassionate) comment.

  37. Mike Maynard June 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    I can relate to this article because I have several great nieces on Facebook. One I haven’t met and is overseas; Facebook is helping her to get to know me. One lives close to me and doesn’t acknowledge me; I think I’m an embarrassment. The other great niece is an embarrassment to me! :)

  38. Jessa Reeves August 10, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    This is something I wanted so hard to avoid – having problems with my kids regarding irresponsible use of social media sites. As much as possible, I only give them half and hour after their homework to be online but I make sure that I have their passwords to check their activities online. They know these of course and they know my policies regarding posting anything inappropriate on the web. I think it also helps to put the computer where it’s common for everyone and anyone can just walk by to avoid any secret use of the computer. Thanks for this article!

  39. Catherine Lockey August 10, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Sounds like you have a good system in place Jess. Remember to add their cell phones to the list of things they can’t have in the room while doing homework.

  40. jules September 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I am so glad to find this article we are grandmothers raising a 12 and 5 year old girls. I wanted to trust her and allowed her to have a facebook,texting but found the private messages from boys not even in our own country and almost 500 friends so needless to say she is grounded for four months no phone,facebook found the info page gave her school,birthday,where she lived. I am still not finish deleting private messages,pictures and friends and she is grounded mostly because passwords were suppose to be written down so we ask she gave us a wrong password maybe so it would give her time to clean it up. I was in the high tech industry for over 20years so I understand technology and how fast it changes there are many useful tools on facebook but most parents don’t know how to set them so if anyone needs help I can walk you thru it..These boys texting her on private thru facebook used very adult type language, very very dangerous to have children on facebook they accept anyone as friends. I am blocking them one by one and I will stay on top of it always. Thank you

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Social Media for Peace of Mind | Creative Marketing Channel - August 25, 2011

    [...] Fail. I tried to call her. Fail.  Then, I started to worry. It took me a few seconds to remember she (like many teenage girls) loves Facebook. I visited her profile and was happy to see her status update which read, “Earthquake!!!!!”  [...]

Leave a Reply


+ two = 11