Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Your Daughter


Your preteen daughter and her girl friends come home from school and without so much as a “hi mom,” head up to her room and shut the door. You wonder for a moment if you should check in on them, maybe offer them a snack, try to have a conversation about their day but you get distracted doing other things and before you know it, it’s dinnertime.

Three hours have passed and the only sounds from your daughter’s room have been giggles and muffled talking. In the past, you had asked your preteen daughter to limit her screen time and not go on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat without your permission.

Knowing the risks involved in social media, you linked your accounts with hers weeks ago. Instagram, being one of the most popular social media sites for preteens, was her favorite so you decided it would be a good idea to check and see if she was using it. Sure enough, not only your daughter but, from the numerous conversations, all her friends had been using it too – and Twitter and Snapchat.

Their comments and postings were disturbing, even shocking. Of particular concern was the number of strangers they were communicating with. It was time to shut it down and have another conversation about privacy, public accounts, potential risks, harassment and cyberbullying and responsible posting. Your daughter still had a lot to learn about the risks associated with giving away personal information.

Sound familiar? Or maybe you have a teenage daughter who, even with all the time you spent on educating and encouraging her to make good choices online, social media and devices overwhelm her more than ever.
If you’re at a loss as to how to help your teen daughter, you’re not alone. Smartphones and social apps were designed to be addictive or, as the inventor of the ‘like’ button put it, a “slot machine in your pocket.


“In a suburban Toronto Starbucks, three teenage girls huddle around a table, fingers flying over their mobile screens as they break down the daily work of promoting their brands. Between sips of iced green-tea lemonades and java-chip frappuccinos, they tell me how they run new content through vetting teams before releasing it to the world. They describe how that content is distributed and tailored according to platform, and how it’s carefully calibrated to suit different audiences. They show me analytics tools that tell them, in real time, how their messages are being received, and what impact they’re having on their brands, in terms of both reach and loyalty.

If it sounds like a full-time job, that’s because it pretty much is — a gig they’ve aged into by virtue of becoming teenagers in the era of the smartphone. As the three friends laugh and chat with one another, their eyes are nearly always cast downward, glued to the devices held between their manicured fingers. The brands they are managing are their own. They post carefully curated updates and stylized pictures of themselves on various apps and platforms. They swipe left and right, opening and closing apps, gasping about the daily drama playing out on the glowing screen, and planning their next moves. They don’t consider it work — it’s more of a necessary pastime that’s become so routine, “it’s like breathing,” says Elina, who is 17. Often, they won’t even let sleep get in the way.”

Smartphone Natives

As this article points out, “Kids born in 1995 or later are smartphone natives fluent in all things touchscreen.” Parents and teachers alike can attest to the fact that smartphones and social media basically consume and rule a preteen or teen girl’s day.

Are your girls happy or overwhelmed with social media?

But, with all the devices, gadgets, apps and social media tools, are young preteen and teen girls happy or are they exhausted, anxious, depressed, lonely, missing out on real life experiences and connections or facing other serious mental health issues?

What began years ago as a good intention – parents giving their child a cell phone to stay in contact and know where they were at all times, has become a deluge of devices and apps, platforms, invasion of privacy, multiple Instagram accounts, Snap-chatting, and constant fear of missing out.

What can parents do?
Be aware
Set screen time limits
Share accounts
Set privacy settings
Open communication lines and stay connected with your preteen or teen about their online behavior

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