Your pre-teen wants more than just about anything to have a YouTube channel, so she can show the videos she makes in her bedroom to the waiting world. She wants to be followed, as she follows all the other kids from whose YouTube videos she learns how to put on makeup and make her hair grow faster. You've said no to this, and to requests for her to join any social networks that allow anyone but friends and family to see her profile and her posts.
It's not a hard call. But it's not an easy sell.
You have already given her at least once your lecture about artists (and writers) and the appropriate moment for them to begin their strange and fickle and psychologically dangerous relationship with The Public. At 12, she's just experimenting with techniques, and hasn't developed anything like a coherent point of view that should be consumed by—or subjected to the judgments of—sane and insane strangers in Alabama, Canada and Israel.
But telling a kid she's not developmentally ready to do the thing that she wants to do is like telling an adult she's not smart enough. You're better off trying to make her understand your position.
So here's what you do. You present her with a hypothetical situation separate from the immaculate world of the Internet. You tell her: What if you told me that on your walk home from school, you pause at a park and put on a little variety show. You sing your acapella Rihanna tunes, you dance, you do jokes and one-girl skits. It started slowly, but now lots of people are coming. All kinds of people, of all ages. You don't know who they are, or why they're coming. You assume the main draw is your general awesomeness, but you're not quite sure what it is you want to communicate to them, or what they need to hear. You're just having fun showing off and these people seem to be enjoying it.
You ask her: If you told me that was happening at the park after school, would you expect me to encourage it? Or allow it to take place even one more day?
She knows the answer, which is, she wouldn't do it in the first place.
That unsupervised show for strangers is what your personal YouTube channel would be, you conclude with the unsuccessfully concealed air of a confident defense attorney resting his case.
She begins to walk out of the room. You tell her she needs to respond first, and you lay out three options: She can agree with you, she can disagree with you, or she can not be sure but be willing to think it over.
"Disagree," she says, and goes into her bedroom.
And then comes out and gives you a goodnight kiss.
And then, on the way back to the bedroom tells you she's looking forward to a trip the two of you are taking the next day but adds, "We are not going to talk about social media."
That works for you.