Hello, this is my very first post and I am in need of advice… I’ve prayed a lot about this the past hour, and now I can’t go to sleep because I’m not sure what to do. Long story short, I had my 13 yo daughter’s cell phone in my room to charge because she left it there, and my 11-year-old son told me that she was looking at things that were inappropriate. When he left, I decided to scroll through her phone… I already have a parenting app on there that filters things, so I wasn’t too worried… But then I found some forums (that seemed innocent enough - about different video games, popular cartoons, and pop culture) that she has a “page” on. When I begin reading her various posts about the video games, movies, etc.- I was truly shocked to see her comments were riddled with profanity and even writing the Lords name in vain, alongside tons of profanity. It was like I was reading an alter personality, because she is not like that at home, or at school (she is a straight A student, but has asperger tendencies of being socially awkward). It’s almost as if she is living a secret life on these online forums as a wise-cracking girl who curses like a sailor naturally, and had no problems saying the Lords name in vain… This is something that hurts the most because we are practicing Catholics, and I have talked so many times with both my kids how even though we hear people do that all the time around us, it’s never something we do, And should never think that it’s the norm or be influenced to talk that way. And I’ve explained why. And she’s always agreed with me, looked me in the eyes, and said she would never do stuff like that. I am heartbroken because it’s truly as if she is a completely different person than who I know as my daughter when I read her posts. The deception scares me. I realize this could be much worse, since there was no pornography or sexually charged posts at all. But I feel this is an absolute gateway into those things as she gets older IF we don’t do something huge now to curtail this “alter-ego” she has developed online. I’m so confused right now, and not sure how to handle this tomorrow. Obviously, her online privileges are entering a new paradigm now… I need help on how to handle this because my natural reaction is to take away all Internet privileges completely, other than for school, and head us all straight to a family therapist. Does anyone have any experience or insight as to what I should I do? How do I handle this, besides lots and lots of prayer? I also feel as if all of the Faith building that I’ve been doing with my kids has failed and fallen upon deaf ears with her… i’m just very sad right now and kicking myself for not having looked into her forums earlier. Thank you for any advice.
I haven’t really processed all this, yet, but I’ll give you some first impressions, and ‘think out loud’ a little. remember, I don’t know any of you, so can’t give definitive advice or impressions here. Also, don’t feel you have to answer everything here…but ask yourself anything that looks remotely appropriate.
First, the source;you say her brother brought this to your attention. Has he had any problems, recently? Is there any chance he’s actually involved in this? I’m talking about everything, between him being as shocked as you are, to him having actually made the posts himself, and signed her online ‘nym’. Have either of your kids done this in the past? Do they usually get along?
You also said that she’s been ‘socially awkward’. Not making excuses, mind you, but could she be trying out a new persona? Deliberately acting unlike herself? Does she have friends that have acted this way?
It doesn’t sound like she was going out of her way to hide this from you. After all, she did leave her phone, with all its questionable content, in your room! Is there anyone, besides her brother, who could have tampered with her phone?
Even if the worst you’ve seen is true, remember, people have gone thru things like this before. Yes, she will likely need discipline, and further monitoring of social media, but many kids just go thru it, as with a phase. She wasn’t making dates to meet persons unknown, or ordering questionable software to bring into your home…she was just swearing and acting in an unacceptable manner!
Please, pray about this. Pray for your daughter. Is her father active in her life? If so, speak to him. And, I know it’s easy to say, hard to do…but try not to panic!
I’ll pray for your family. God Bless!
Take away the data on her phone until she matures a bit and have a talk with her about her behavior
Honestly, if that’s the only thing your thirteen-year-old is doing, you’re doing a pretty good job as a parent…
As for this,
I’d say you’ll get a rather different reaction than you’re expecting. Family therapy is meant for real issues.
If that’s the case, rather than piling up the pressure, which probably caused this issue in the first place, try loosening it a little, so she won’t need to find ways of releasing the pressure you’re putting on her. Nearly every child her age will behave differently among kids her age, and it’s not like she’s doing anything unusual. Your heightened surveillance of her online activities, meanwhile, sound a little excessive. Explain to her that pornography is wrong: and it is, gravely: but don’t expect her to be a model of moral virtue all the time. She needs people her age to vent to about her issues and connect with. That’s very healthy. Try not to stunt her development by limiting this unnecessarily. I doubt God will strike her down for occasional profanity. I mean, were you perfect as a kid? Limiting her unnecessarily risks raising an emotional wreck, especially since she:
Limiting her social interaction further could deeply and permanently harm her.
I think the answer is to remain calm, explain that you ran across the information and that although you realize she was not acting in a way that was shocking for that forum, it is a disappointing departure from who she has always been to others in person.
I would tell her she is not losing her phone, but on the condition that she is going to lose the level of privacy you would have liked her to have. When you are satisfied that her habitual level of civility on the internet has reached a level worthy of her and the reputation she has in “real life,” then she can get back to the level of privacy she will have to handle on her own in five years.
The reason I wouldn’t take it away is that I’d rather force her to demonstrate restraint as a way to prove she deserves the privacy to manage her own internet presence. This isn’t about punishment; it is about providing the accountability she has shown she needs to develop into the version of herself that has gained her so much esteem in real life.
“Never be a person anywhere that you have to hide from anyone, Sweetie, and never try to protect a reputation you really haven’t earned. That is what integrity is all about.”
Yeah, cause that’ll real help a child with Asperger’s who can probably only interact with others in a meaningful way on an internet forum…
Well when I was 14 I was smoking marijuana, gambling, watching porn and a year later drinking beer and physically assulting people. I bet the kind folks who raised me (grandparents) wished all I was doing was cussing on the internet. Granted using The Lord’s name in vain can be grave matter. I would talk to her about that again but as I am not a parent I do not know what else to tell you except good luck, it could be worse and God bless.
I think this girl wants to be better than that. I’d give consequences that show I believe she can but in light of the knowledge that she needs a bit of guidance.
I would try to supervise her use in a coaching way, too, not a “gotcha” way. The idea is for her to want to rise to expectations. She should know she has an opportunity to gain esteem, not just internet access.
This girl deserves high expectations. She can do it.
She may fail again, but that is no reason not to help her try.
My point is that, since her Asperger’s stunts her relations with others, the forum mentioned could well be the only meaningful contact she gets with people of the same age. Taking that away at such a fragile and crucial developmental stage could crush her, and make her illness far worse. Her parents frankly already sound like they’ve set their expectations crazy high. I’ve never met a 13 year old whose sole purpose in life is to be a paragon of moral virtue…
I definitely think that if the only concern is profanity and not content, this is probably not a matter for a counselor. I would just sit down and talk with her about it. Remind her that she is just as morally responsible for what she says when she is anonymous as she is in “real life”. Ask her why she feels the need to communicate in this style. Tell her the importance of being yourself. I would not impose a consequence at this point, especially if she seems reasonable during your discussion.
I think I’d start with asking her why she feels the need to use that kind of language. I agree with others that she is probably using it to fit in. Remind her that cussing neither makes you appear smarter or more mature. In fact, it cussing about video games and pop culture makes them look more middle school-ish.
First of all, Aspergers isn’t an “illness”, and calling it such is considered very offensive to many people. Second of all, I highly doubt that anyone on a forum such as what the OP described is having anything close to “meaningful contact”, nor is in known that those she is communicating with ARE her own age. Based on the OPs post, I don’t see any reason to suspect that she disallows her daughter appropriate real-life interaction with her actual real-life peers, which is likely to be far more beneficial than online interaction with strangers. Lastly, I don’t see any “crazy high” expectations. Not going on profanity soaked tirades on the internet is a reasonable expectation for a 13yo.
All children go through these stages. She’s a teen. She may in all probability fall away from Church for a while as she navigates growing up. I know this not very Catholic but the sooner they have their time of rebellion and get it out of their system the better. If you make it a bigger deal at this stage she will push against you more. If she knows you have been looking at her posts she will no doubt react very badly too. Honestly I think she’ll grow out of it. Just keep being loving and setting a good example. I get monitoring the activity but ultimately kids will find these things out and access them if they are in that frame of mind. I grew up in a very strict household myself and I can tell you I was very different growing up with friends than with parents. Is she a kind person in day to day life? Has she got friends and hobbies? I am not going to be naive enough to say what goes online doesn’t matter as it does, but sounds like she’s just being a teen.
Most youngsters have a keen sense of right and wrong.
If you could explain to her gently, why it is wrong, and why parents supervise their child’s online internet activity up to the age of 18, and that it’s your job as a parent to check out what her comments are on social media, That could encourage her to act more responsibly.
Tell her how to express her feelings in a more polite way, how to rephrase things in a more socially acceptable way.
I do get where you’re coming from and I agree that mom should be monitoring things I don’t think anyone should be swearing online esp kids however these days kids will find a way if they want to. So I am just saying family therapy is a bit extreme yes have the chat and a really difficult one if needs be about going on online and behaving yourself but it’s really not the end of the world as long as she is cared for and protected at home she’s still growing up. And I constantly ‘fight’ with parents about how much time they let their kids spend online when they should be in bed I’m an educator lol but sometimes you can end up making a rod for your own back when you go in all guns blazing. OP I will pray for you both xx
I really like this answer xx
The statistics are; that kids are spending 5 hours a day on social media.
The statistics of this is: lower self esteem, depression, etc
Your child has aspergers so maybe this is her only means of communication?
Decide as a parent; what is the maximum amount of supervised time your student should have available using the internet/ electronic devices.
As her situation may differ from another child.
I heard for students with good social skills etc that 15 mins supervised access to electronic devices per day, is enough ,
She needs to realize that what is out on the internet exists FOREVER.
Does she want her pastor to read those things? Grandma?
The advisor who is reviewing her university application?
What about her potential employers?
If she is not mature enough to act responsibly on social media, then, she looses access to the internet while she matures. No huge deal, she was simply let out of the nest too early.
It’s not an illness in as far as it can’t be cured, but it’s certainly a potentially very debilitating disorder that can seriously hinder one’s interaction with others in the real world. This, combined with the deeply flawed attitude to disability in modern society, means that young people with it tend to be ostracised and excluded in schools and colleges. Hence my opinion that the forum could be a form of compensating for lost social interaction. That’s not ideal, but it’s still important, particularly as a means of developing communicative skills. The swearing we see, as a means of blending in with others, is an example of this lack of development. I think, with the types of video games and cartoons she’d be allowed to play and see, it is highly likely young people are the prime users of this forum. I understand the impulse for protection, but the hysterical reaction here is highly suggestive that the parents’ expectations are very unreasonable. I don’t see the need to constantly hold a 13 year old to account to some misguided, unattainable standard of behaviour and wording.