Social media, teens and parents… Friends?
Published by Ana Etxebarria
Social media has become an extension of the high school playground for the vast majority of teenagers, with its share of flirting, drama, cruelty and flashes of maturity.
In addition, electronic behavior has become a new frontier of parenting and, as a result, our own behavior may be changing as fast as our kids. We’re watching them more closely, talking to them more about online activities and understanding that social media has become part of growing up.
Another surprising fact is that 80 percent of parents who use social media (and who also have a child who uses social media) have friended their child on these sites.
This ‘friendship’ poses a dilemma for parents, who have to choose between being controlling parents who check which websites their children have visited, use parental control software, etc, or permissive parents who don’t embrace the trend to monitor and encourage their children’s autonomy.
According to recent studies, only a small percentage of parents (about 15 percent) consciously avoid monitoring their children’s online activities because they trust them. In my opinion that is an incredibly low figure.
I am a mother of three and I belong to a generation where social interaction between children took place in the playground. Well, let my tell you something: back then parents also fell into one of the aforementioned two categories. There were those who didn’t trust their children despite in some cases not having a reason for not doing so, and those who trusted them. Luckily, my parents belonged to the latter group although I had close friends whose parents showed an incredibly high level of distrust towards them.
So, if you think you know your children well enough, there is good communication between you and them, you are a good role model for them, and there is no reason to the contrary…Why not trust your kids? Why are we so worried and why some of us get so intrusive?
Not so long ago a friend of mine told me that they had installed some sort of ‘spyware’ (I can’t find a better word for it) on their 11-year-old son’s computer and they monitor every step he takes online: the games he plays, the sites he visits, the time he spends on each page, the photos he downloads, who he chats with, the content of his conversations, etc. Isn’t it terrible? That’s like reading someone’s journal, tapping their phone lines or hiding cameras in every room in their apartment.
Do you monitor your child’s social media activities? Do you use parental controls? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your opinions or personal experiences.