DEAR AMY: I recently got a phone for my 14th birthday. With the new phone came lots of rules. I have a Kik and a Snapchat app and an Instagram account, etc. (like most teenagers), but my parents decided that they should be able to go through my phone and all my social networking accounts whenever they feel the need. I don't like this because my friends say things my parents would find inappropriate, and then my friends get in trouble with my parents. I understand that my parents just mean to keep me safe, especially with cyberbullying around, but I kind of feel like this is a violation of my privacy. Your thoughts?
DEAR VIOLATED: Smart parents work with their kids to develop positive and healthy social networking habits. You may actually be much more savvy than your folks about some social media apps, but this experience will be a learning experience for all of you.
My take is that when friends or social connections behave inappropriately, they should be in trouble with you (not just your parents). Confusion, missed connections, misunderstandings, mild (and not so mild) bullying, gossiping, exclusion, etc., are almost universal experiences when people first explore this exhilarating world of free expression on social media. After several months -- once you figure out what kind of social connector you are, what you comfort level is and what your boundaries are -- everybody settles down.
Your folks are actually providing you with "cover." Occasionally things can spiral out of control. This is when you can respond, truthfully, that your folks are clamping down. The whole idea is to develop good habits and to be open about your concerns. Your parents are the ones who get to be in charge of your phone -- for now. Your loss of privacy is a tradeoff you have to accept.
Once they see that you are responsible, reasonable and safe, they should trust you to manage this on your own.