Hello my fabulous friends!
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my many posts in regard to the lack of active parenting that is taking place there. There are an increasing number of teens who are engaging on Facebook and on all forms of social media. It is the new party going on and it is probably going on in your own home, most likely in your teen’s bedroom. Through Social Media, your child has the ability to connect with the entire world. If your child chooses to attend, the party is an open door event and everyone without concern to who they are, where they are from, what their intentions are…the entire world is invited to the party. So…Your Teen is Throwing a Global Party. Are you Home?
Think about it. If your teen were to have a party in your home…would you be there? Would you discuss the invitation list? The time limits? Would you set clear limits in regard to assuring that your policy of no drugs, no alcohol and no sexual activities took place during the party? Would you be there to supervise?
My hope is that most of you answered yes to the above questions. Clearly, most of us do not allow strangers into our home. As parents, we set limits on all of the things I discussed. In the real world and in real life, you may consider yourself an actively engaged parent.
When we as parents are actively engaged with our children, it means that we know what is going on in their lives. We are aware of the friendships and we encourage healthy social relationships. We teach and set boundaries on acceptable behavior and most importantly we keep them safe.
Let me put it this way, when you are actively parenting…you are involved. What I find interesting and very concerning however, it this same type of parenting does not seem to take place as it relates to how teens are living in their “virtual” world. I have spent the last few months engaging many parents in conversation surrounding this very issue. Although my discussion would certainly not be considered scientific data…what I have learned from the parents I interviewed, is stunning.
Let me ask you what I have asked them…Are you involved in your child’s activities on social media? Do you know if they have an account? Do you monitor these accounts? Do you have all login information including passwords?
If you answered no, you must ask yourself why. When parents did answer no, and more than half did, I was shocked and dismayed by their response..
Here were the answers I heard most often:
- I don’t think my teen is on Facebook.
- I don’t understand Facebook
- I don’t have the time for Facebook
- I don’t want my teen to think I am snooping
- Isn’t that like reading my teen’s diary?
- He/she needs their privacy
Here were my most popular responses:
- Your child is most likely on Facebook. If Facebook were a country, it is the third largest country on the globe.
- You are not snooping. You are parenting.
- There is no privacy on the internet, ever.
- If they need a diary, and I encourage the use of one for teens, buy them one.
- If you don’t have time for Facebook and are unable or unwilling to educate yourself in how it works…your teen should not be there at all.
Your job as a parent is to educate your child in all areas of life. The best way to educate your child on social networking sites like Facebook is to educate yourself first. There is a great deal of information out there. It is your responsibility to find it. Do you remember when you were pregnant with your first child? Most of us gathered every book possible to educate ourselves and prepare for motherhood. When faced with parenting responsibilities such as potty training your young child, did you say…I don’t have time to learn how to do that? I know for some of you, the task of learning how to monitor your teen on Facebook may seem particularly daunting, but that can never be an excuse for not parenting well.
So, start there. Educate yourself on how Facebook works. Get your own account and navigate the policies. Most importantly, learn and understand how the privacy settings work. I am not going to teach you how to do these things in this post, but I am encouraging you to check in, and take the responsibility to educate yourself.
I believe it is necessary for parents to have all login and password information for Facebook. You cannot assess your child’s safety settings simply by being connected as their friend. Furthermore, you are not their friend. You are their parent. Give them their space, but make it clear that there is no privacy and you will be checking in on their page regularly.
Do not allow your teen to manipulate you into the “you don’t trust me” conversation. It is not about trusting your teen. It is about not trusting a worldwide network, unlimited access to very personal and identifying information about your child. It is about good parenting and it is about keeping your child safe.
The most difficult part about checking in to this virtual world is that you will see there really is a global party going on and most parents are not aware that it is taking place. If parents would check in and monitor Facebook, they would not only protect their child form unforeseen danger, they will also see much of what is going on good and bad within their child’s life. I have seen many parties announced on Facebook. A party in my community was announced on Facebook and it took place while the parent’s were out of town. Had they only checked in, they would have seen the planning and chatter. It was all right there on the Facebook feeds and on the walls of many teens in town.
I encourage you to begin the process of educating and monitoring your child’s activity on Facebook and all forms of social media. Check privacy issues, monitor behavior to include checking photos and posts. You would be shocked to see some of the very inappropriate things put out there. Adolescence is a critical time of development and many opportunities are available to turn mistakes into teachable moments. The important thing to remember is this: If your child is making social mistakes on Facebook, they are much more difficult to recover and learn from than social mistakes made in the real world. On Facebook, error in judgment such as inappropriate picture posting, writing posts without thinking and all other impulsive behavior typical of the age group, are recorded and retrievable forever. Need I say more?
If you want more insight on how to parent effectively, be sure to sign up for my Newsletter Diva Tips and News. You can do so by leaving me your Diva In-box information in the form located next to this post! My next edition of Diva Speaks will talk about the importance of parenting with a passion and presence. Be sure to get your copy!
I would love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think in the comment section below. I would love to hear your stories and experiences that you may have in regard to this issue. Let’s learn from each other….
Go! Divas! Go!