You feel like you finally, finally have a handle on your teen’s social media life … then they block you.
Cue all the feelings.
As a parent, our number one job is to keep our kids safe. That includes keeping them safe online. When they suddenly go incognito by cutting us off from seeing their posts, it can feel like they’re three years old again and disappear into a busy crowd.
After you’ve had your (totally normal, completely understandable) mental freakout, try to see this as an opportunity. If you approach it intentionally, this blip could ultimately lead to a more productive relationship between you and your teen around their social media use.
It’s easy to jump to the worst-case scenario about why your teen blocked you. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re up to no good or have something awful to hide.
The teenage years are a crucial time for self-discovery and forging independence. To do that, teens need spaces where they can interact with their peers away from an adult’s watchful eye.. When you were a teen, that space may have been the mall or the skate park. Like it or not, for this generation, social media has become a vital place to connect with their friends.
As a parent, it’s important to strike a balance of giving kids space and independence, while still protecting them. It’s no easy task, but it is possible.
Your instinct might be to ban your teen from all social media. That’s a normal reaction. But the hard truth is, if your teen wants to be on social media badly enough, they’ll find a way. From logging in on a friend’s phone to creating a finsta (an Instagram account under a fake name), teens are very clever at outsmarting their parents when it comes to technology.
Your best bet is to do everything you can to create an open channel of communication with your teen so they don’t feel the need to hide anything from you in the first place. Good communication, combined with giving them space in ways that you’re comfortable with, is key in building mutual trust.
The first step in forging this open communication is to ask your teen why they blocked you. Try to take any judgment and anger out of it. You’ll be more likely to get an honest answer if they don’t feel like they’re in trouble before they even open their mouth. Then — and this step is crucial — listen to everything they have to say without argument or interruption.
Once you’ve uncovered what led them to block you, work with them to find a way forward. You’re still the parent, you have the final say, but you may need to compromise with your teen to reach a solution.
Perhaps it’s as simple as promising that you won’t comment or like any of their posts. (Ugh, Mom, why do you have to be so embarrassing?!)
Or maybe you agree to stay blocked if your teen agrees to sit down with you on a regular basis and go through some of their posts with you. They get to keep some autonomy, while you get a window into their online life.
Another option to consider: the BrightCanary app, which uses AI to monitor your child’s social media and alerts you if anything concerning pops up. Tools like this allow you to give your teen the independence they want and need, while providing you with peace of mind.
Whatever solution you land on, remember you’ll have the best chance of long-term cooperation from your teen if they have a voice in the decision.
When your teen blocks you on social media, it can be very upsetting. But it doesn’t necessarily spell trouble. It’s a teenager’s job to break away from their parents. It’s a parent’s job to help them find independence in a way that is safe and responsible. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to handle getting blocked. But if you approach the issue with an open mind and listen to your teen, it’s possible to find a solution that keeps both you and your teen happy and safe.