Dear Harlan: I’m a sophomore in high school, and my parents refuse to let me get on social media. They got me a phone, but it doesn’t have data and I can’t download apps.

I have strict rules when it comes to using my phone. I use it to call them or they’ll call me on it. I have told them that it’s hard to communicate with my friends and I feel left out a lot when everyone is on Snapchat and Instagram. They are old-school and think technology ruins young minds. I have an account on a friend’s phone that I will use.

I don’t know how to convince them to loosen the rules. In two years I’m going to be in college, and they will have no control. How do they expect me to figure it out if they don’t give me a chance to be responsible? Help. — Parental Controlled

Dear Controlled: You won’t convince them you need it. They lived a lifetime without it and made friends. And I hate to tell you, but research says social media doesn’t make kids happier — it does the opposite. Accept their stinkin’ rules (for now), but show them their rules are flawed and outdated. This takes time and patience. They need to see that apps and technology serve students in ways they never imagined.

For example, high school clubs and organizations use Facebook and Instagram to highlight students’ achievements. When it comes to college, institutions and departments within a school will use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to communicate with students and parents. When it comes to news (campus newspapers), social media is a key distribution channel.

Make social media less about being social and more about connecting with info and resources that will help you stay informed. Ask them to download apps to their phone so you can have access. Share these resources with them. Over time, they will see what you already know.

In the meantime, use your lack of social media as a way to get closer with friends who have social media. In a way, not having it will make you more social and shield you from the negative parts.

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Dear Harlan,

It’s been six months, and I’ve started to find my girlfriend’s little habits annoying. I used to love her voice, but now I find it’s too nasal. Her singing was cute, now it gives me a headache. She makes this whistling sound when she sleeps. I used to think it was cute, now it keeps me up. Is this a sign that we’re doomed? I like being with her and still find her attractive. Is there a way I can find these little things cute again, or once it changes is it always annoying?


Dear Annoyed,

Her voice will continue to sound nasal, her singing won’t get better, and her whistling is not going to stop. This means either you need to change or you need to find a woman who talks from her diaphragm, sings like an angel and only whistles while she works. But even then, you’re bound to find a problem with how she chews, bites her nails or laughs (oh, that laugh). Do you have intimacy issues? Have you pushed away from other relationships? I could understand if she cheated and lied, but these nuisances are part of being with anyone. Instead of blaming her, look in the mirror and focus on you. She’s not the problem.

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