My child sets up a fake social media account, what should I do?
So, you walked into your teen’s room and found out they used a fake account on their devices (finsta, faketok, etc. Take your pick). You oversee them chatting with friends about being cyber stalking their crushes or enemies’ in stealth mode.
Teenagers hide things from us from time to time. To some extent, it’s a right of passage for them to gain independence from their parents. Think of the time when you were a teenager, what kind of things were you hiding from your parents? It’s ok, no judgments here. However, times are different now with the advancement of technology. There’s no doubt that parenting today is harder. While juggling chores and responsibilities at home, you now have to keep track of your children’s online activities. Here are some potential reasons why your children create fake accounts:
They want to be a part of an in-group.A fake account is a place where they can post privately with select friends to show their authentic selves. They might want to be seen as fun, savvy, and in the know. Among this could be vulgar language, photos of partying and drinking, and experiences of depression and life struggles.
They want to keep anonymous. They may want tospy on their crush, ex-boyfriend, or ex-girlfriend and they don’t want them knowing that they’re doing so. Or they’ll make up this fake account to spread rumors about certain people they dislike. Sometimes they may be exploring sex and sexuality without judgment. It’s natural for teens to do that.
They don’t want parents to tail them. They simply don’t want you to follow their activities. Maybe they fear disapproval, judgments, or even negative consequences from you.
They need a place to express themselves and receive attention, love, and care. If they cannot find it from the people around them, they seek it from strangers online.
As a parent, you don’t want to tail them, or go too hot and heavy on them about this because you need to maintain an open dialogue with them.
Here are some things you should do when you see your child set up a fake social media account:
I know it sounds so cliche, but talking is always the first step. Before doing so, here are a few things you consider doing:
Do some research on surveys and articles about the same cases they’re in so you can educate them well with references.
Assess your situation, maybe you also have contributed to why they are doing it.
Don’t open the dialogue with an accusatory tone. Start with a true story, “I read the other day there’s this situation with a kid who has a faketok account and (insert negative consequence)…” and ask them their thoughts about it. The goal isn’t to scare them but to share with them that there are negative consequences in the real world. They may not be forthcoming with you because they may be testing the water to see how you would react. Keep the discussion light and non-judgemental of other kids with a fake account.
Be honest and address the fake accounts after the warm open. Let them know you have discovered the account. Ask them about their reason for the account, and what they are hoping to achieve.
You should talk to them in a respectful way, after all they are mini adults who will be out of the house in a few short years. You may hug them or kiss them to show you care for them and that you need to protect them in every way possible. And let them know that having a private fake account will certainly not be the best way to keep cyber safety.
Talk about alternative ways to deal with social/relational issues rather than using a fake account. Instead of spying on an ex, talk about what is difficult about moving on? You might want to discuss why they are spreading rumors or cyberbullying; if it is about revenge: how to move on and not sink into bullying.
Specify ground rules and be open for them to contribute to the ground rules. Explain to them the natural consequences (positive and negative) with each behavior.
In case none of these steps works, you can always consult third-party counselors and professionals. If you feel that you have so much on your plate, and everything is overwhelming you, then call us now. We have different programs for teens, kids, adults, or even parents. See more of our services here.
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