Is Your Kid Treating Social Media Like a Personal Diary Space?

Facebook, teensThey wouldn’t invite their classmates to sit in their bedroom while they were getting dressed in the morning. They wouldn’t allow their next door neighbor to sit in with them while they were wearing the little open-backed paper gown and dangling on the examination table during a doctor’s visit. They wouldn’t give a friend of a friend of a friend the green light to rifle through their old emails and text messages.

So why oh why oh why so do many kids voluntarily broadcast all of their personal affairs and publicize their innermost thoughts on Facebook or Twitter? 

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The statuses I’m seeing as of late — from the kids at church, some of Girl Child’s friends, even from Girl Child herself — are appalling. They’re being slapped up in moments of fury, frustration, or complete and total cluelessness by teens and tweens who use their 420- or 140-character limit to say exactly what’s on their minds, exactly what’s going on in their lives at that very moment, or exactly what they’re feeling deep, deep inside. (Incidentally, some adults who should know better are doing the same thing, but that’s another rant for another day.) That can be funny if they have a witty observation to make or a random question to ask. Love those.

But social media is not a journal. And the world — or their 1,346 friends or followers — don’t need to know every detail about what’s going on in their lives. It’s not the place to air the same kind of grievances or offload the same kind of tales they would share with, hopefully, their mom or their dad or, at the very least, their bestie during hangout time. I don’t care how many lists or what kind of privacy settings they have. Some things are better left unsaid ... at least on social media.
 
When kids whip out their phones to launch into a multi-message rant — and prepare to dominate someone’s whole news feed, going off about something that you have to scroll 15 posts back to even begin to figure out what they’re even fussing about — they’re acting on impulse, and a bad one at that.

And sometimes, they aren’t even upset and they’re saying off the hook stuff. They’ll try their hand at sounding flirty and just come off like everybody’s favorite good time girl. They’ll make threats against a teacher knowing full well some classmate is in their digital midst, just waiting to copy and paste that joint into the body of a fresh email and circulate, circulate, circulate. Or they’ll have an argument with someone in real life — maybe in person, maybe on the phone, maybe over email — then take to Facebook or Twitter to vent about the very same individual, who’s also one of their friends.

One can only talk covertly slick but so much before the other is hopefully bright enough to make the connection between that conversation and the thinly veiled posts and tweets. So please, I implore you, demand to be a friend or a follower of your kid if you’re going to allow them to have a Facebook and/or Twitter account.

There needs to be a system of checks and balances, and they can’t seem to maintain it by themselves. I don’t mean stalk them. Respect their social media space just like you do their physical space in the house. But just keep an eye on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it, and if they’re putting way too much of their personal business in the streets, call them on it. Before somebody else does.

Are you connected to your kids on social media? Have they ever said anything inappropriate?


Image via English106/Flickr

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