A recent article on The Guardian detailed “The 10 worst parental crimes on social media.” Written by two 14 year old girls, the article lists 10 things parents on social media do that their teenagers find particularly annoying. However, as any parent knows, just because your child finds a certain rule (or practice) annoying does NOT mean that rule is worthless. Here are the ten social media “parental crimes,” as well as why parents might want to keep on re-offending.
1. “The ‘talk'”
According to the article, “the talk” covers adding strangers on social media and posting “things you may regret later in life.” Sorry teens, but this crime is a must for parents everywhere. We do recommend that parents be more specific about posting suggestive and/or unprofessional content and the short term and long term consequences of what teens post. As the authors pointed out, though, some parents leave out important topics like body shaming and pornography. The best strategy is to have the talk not just once, but continuously.
Teens complain that their parents have one set of rules for their kids and another set for themselves. While it is important for kids to recognize that screen freedom increases with age and maturity, parents should remember that their example will leave a lasting impression. So, if parents institute an unplugged hour, the whole family should probably participate.
The teen authors of the article specifically call out parents who manufacture picture-perfect social media profiles and over share the details of their kids’ success. This is a common problem among social media users of all ages. Parents and teens should come to an understanding about what is and is not ok to post about family members.
4, 5, 6, 7. “Getting Facebook/Twitter/WhatsApp/Instagram wrong”
We understand that teens may be embarrassed by public messages from their parents (as discussed in the article), but it seems nit-picky to complain about parents using various social media platforms “wrong.” Everyone expresses themselves online differently, so we think this is one area in which teens need to cut their parents some slack.
8. “Using bad science”
The examples given were warning boys that keeping cell phones in their pockets would make them infertile and telling teens that keeping mobile devices in their room overnight will interfere with their sleep. While there is a fair amount of support for the latter, it sounds like the real issue here is teens not respecting their parents’ judgement and limits.
Of all the “parental crimes,” this one is a must! Now, spying has a secretive connotation, and we believe that parents should be upfront about their monitoring, but parents need to know what their kids are doing online. Many, many online dangers lose their pull if kids just know that their parents are keeping tabs on them. Explain to your kids that you do not monitor out of a lack of trust but because it is your job as a parent to keep them safe and help them grow into responsible, independent adults. The day will come soon enough when you can step back, but it is essential that parents of minors are aware of their children’s online activity.
10. “Asking, ‘What have you been doing all day?'”
It is true that this particular comment can come off as passive aggressive. However, read further in the article: “How can we begin to answer such a question? I am not addicted; I’m terrified. Fear is the oxygen that fuels the fire of all social media. To you it may seem as if I’ve wasted a day staring at a screen, but if I don’t stay in contact with my friends, I feel terrified by what might happen.” This is NOT a healthy relationship with social media. If a parent notices their children spending hours a day on social media or feel anxious at the thought of disconnecting, the responsible course of action is to encourage them to cut back.
Parents, your involvement in your teens’ online lives is essential. Teens, responsible parents are aware of ALL aspects of their children’s lives. This does not have to be awkward! If both parents and teens are open about their goals and desires, this can be an opportunity for growth and strengthening parent-child relationships. Be patient, keep your cool, and have a sense of humor. These moments will stay with you both for the rest of your lives, so stick with it and know that your efforts are making all the difference.
Here at Clean Router, we believe that every family deserves a fun, safe online experience.