Thursday, September 30, 2010

Parents Don't Ignore Teen's Use of Social Networking

Parents should not discount the impact that social networking and the Internet play in teen's lives. Read this article about a college freshman who committed suicide after his college roommate allegedly used Skype to make a video, without his consent or knowledge, of him having sexual relations with another male. It was broadcast to his social network using the Internet. The story involves Twitter, Facebook, and Skype. It's a heartbreaking situation.

Of course an important part of this story is that the young man was homosexual and hid that from some people including his own parents. The sex video informed some of his friends of this fact.

I think teens think just because sharing video and photos and info is fast and easy they have warped and wrong ideas about privacy (thinking there is no such thing as privacy). I don't quite know what to do about this. As a parent all I can do is discuss these things with my children, including the importance of privacy over some matters.

Honestly I think it's sad that a suicidal young man left his suicide note as a Facebook wall status post.

I wish more parents would wake up to the issues regarding kids and teens, the Internet and social networking. I myself have had a few sticky situations with my kids online, despite careful planning and preparations some minor things have happened. I just try my best to teach my kids. My head is not stuck in the sand. I talk to parents I know about this and get mixed opinions and reactions.

I am worried for other kids whose parents are clueless and laugh about how silly Facebook is and refuse to even look to see what it is, even though their own kids are using Facebook. They look down upon social networking as stupid and unnecessary and unworthy of their time. Others claim their kids should have full privacy and freedom to do on Facebook whatever they want so they don't even look at what their children are posting online.

I have seen some teens Facebook posts which state things that are quite troublesome such as serious symptoms of clinical depression in kids who have troubling situations in their lives. I wonder if their own parents realize the distress they are in? It's also good to know who your children's friends are. If your son's girlfriend listed cutting as one of her interests on her Facebook profile isn't that something you'd like to know? Do her own parents know she is into self-mutilation?

Wake up parents and start taking the Internet, Twitter, and Facebook seriously, if for no other reason that you may wind up getting to know who your child really is and what they are really thinking and feeling. Isn't that what good parents really want anyway, to really know their children so they can best guide and teach them how to navigate through life?


Carrie Schmeck said...

Valid points. A young teenager just friended me and I am disturbed by her posts. She sounds desperately unhappy and every time she posts, I wonder if her parents know or recognize just how depressed she sounds. It's been several years since I have had a relationship with the parents so calling out of the blue feels a little strange. What to do?

IntelliCorp InTouch said...

I couldn't agree more.

I think a lot of parents fall into 2 categories of intentional, blissful ignorance:

1. Thinking most people are probably good.
Thinking this way is the same thing that makes people say, "I never thought it could happen to me". They impose their own morals onto the rest of the world without knowing they are doing it and think generally (despite the news on the contrary) people are good and while there are a lot of weirdos out there, my kid wont be a target.

2. Not knowing anything about technology.
A lot of parents just accept that their kids know more about the internet and technology in general than they do and do not work to educate themselves as vigorously as they possibly should.

Both of these are dangerous traps for parents to fall into. If it helps, we put out a video series on social networking for parents that we're working on finishing up now to help educate parents and help them monitor their kids online activity to keep them safe. Let us know in the comments if there is any other information that would help you in keeping your kids safe.

christinemm said...

Hi Carrie, I would be tempted to say something to the parents. If you don't care for the girl in some way you'd not have accepted her friend request, right? Maybe there was a reason she reached out to you?

LivingByLearning said...

Monitoring my teen's Facebook use has become a daily chore. Quite often, I've had to ask her to delete comments because some of the language in the comment threads cross the line.

It's a job, but I figure it's better to be there with her,providing guidance and limits, than not.

christinemm said...

After seeing some nastiness that schooled kids write on FB (friends of his own friends that he doesn't know), combined with the fallout from comments others have made on other people's walls, my 13 year old has decided it's best to keep quiet on FB most of the time. He isn't on FB daily due to busy-ness and priorities, but when/if more of his really close friends go on FB or start posting daily he'll want more.

Among my friends whose kids go to school I've heard some crazy stories of fallout from FB posts, things revealed to parents, 8th graders drinking and doing drugs when their parents didn't think they did with photo proof, and worse things that I'll not mention. Eye opening to say the least.