Young teens in a divorce or separation often have a cell phone because it is a way for both parents to stay in touch with the child and for working parents to know their young teen is safely home from school. In fact, many custody orders and separation agreements include terms requiring a child to have a cell phone and some will specify not taking away a cell phone as a punishment. (the idea being a parent can block all but the other parent from the phone, but not remove the phone entirely) But parents may not be aware of what their children are actually doing on social media.
A new investigative report on CNN “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens,” studied the media feeds of over 200 8th graders posted over six months. To say 13 year olds are dependent on their phones would be an understatement. What are they doing on line? Mostly checking their social standing. And the more the child was checking the phone, the more the child became stressed. Thirteen has always been a hard age, but popularity takes on a whole new dimension when a child can actually “measure” his or her popularity in likes, shares and comments. Being tagged or not tagged, seeing pictures of some party you weren’t invited to, having someone say cruel things about you or your picture can be devastating for a teen.
The study found that when parents were able to help their teen keep things in perspective the children were less likely to remain upset about something that got posted on line. Parents who are separated or divorced should share information regarding the social media outlets their children are posting on and, if possible, have a joint set of rules regarding cell phones and posting on social media at both houses.