Some unsettling news for parents everywhere today. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith are reportedly under investigation by child protective services. Remember that photo of 13-year-old daughter Willow Smith lying in bed with 20-year-old actor Moises Arias that took the world by storm in early May? Turns out the Instagram post also raised eyebrows at the Los Angeles Department of Children & Family Services.
Social workers have confirmed they've met with Will and Jada, and they're going to be talking with the couple's teenager about the incident. Think they had it coming? Consider this: you could be next.
The only reason social services found out about Moises and Willow's relationship -- be it platonic or otherwise -- was because of a social media posting. Moises posted the photo that got tongues wagging, and social workers poking around, on Instagram.
Without it, no one would have known. And even if someone close to the situation HAD called DCFS, there would have been little to go on -- no evidence, so to speak.
The fact is, kids have been doing stupid things for centuries. But now everything they do is being blasted out to the masses via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Every move they make -- whether it's with parental approval or not -- is open to criticism. Every move they make opens us, their parents, up to being judged.
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Think about it. If you see a high school boy posing with a pyramid of beer cans on Facebook, what's your first thought? Your knee-jerk reaction? Isn't it to wonder where his parents are? Because that's what we do as parents? We judge other parents based on their children's actions ... the way we did with Will and Jada?
And yet -- do we know whether the parents of that aforementioned teenage boy had any clue what their son was up to? Isn't it possible that they thought he was at a friend's house being supervised by responsible adults, only he did what teenage boys do and sneaked out to a party?
By the same token, it's entirely possible that Will and Jada thought Willow was doing something entirely different. Or that -- as Jada has said repeatedly -- the photo was much more innocent than our dirty minds are reading it, and there's nothing worth the kerfuffle here.
Unfortunately, once a photo like this gets out on social media, it's open to interpretation ... and to judgment. It opens parents up to investigations like the one ongoing for the Smiths.
This is as modern a parenting problem as you can get. Our parents and grandparents worried about their teenagers being teenagers. They didn't have to worry that normal rebellious teenage behavior would be blasted to the world at large via the Internet on a daily basis. There was a privacy, of sorts, a chance for parents to sort things out on their own, without the prying eyes of friends, neighbors, and -- worst case -- the department of social services.
But those days are over. Social media is here, and our kids are rabid consumers.
We can't stop our teenagers from doing stupid things. If we had the magic bullet that did that, we'd be millionaires selling that to every parent out there!
We can, however, be hyper vigilant about social media postings. We can watch their Instagrams, their Facebooks, their Twitters like hawks. We can tell them to pull things down ... and punish them.
We can, and we must -- not just for their sakes, but for ours.
What do you think of the reaction to Willow's Instagram photo? What would you have done in the Smiths' place?
Image via Twitter