By Debby Shulman
Not too long ago, I blogged here about taking my teenage daughter off of Facebook. It was a challenging thing to do. Now that it’s been a couple of months, we have had the opportunity to see the benefits in full bloom. One of the most wonderful aspects of this decision has been the dramatic decrease in her presence on Facebook and her diminished interest in “posing” for pictures and ‘selfies’ (a term I just picked up from watching too much of ABC’s “Nightline”). I no longer have to scout her page to see if the pictures are appropriate or if there is too much cleavage. But interestingly enough, this past week, Your Teen posted a fabulous cartoon of a teen finding his mother’s embarrassing Facebook posts years down the road. It got me thinking: will my Facebook statuses embarrass my teens?
Do I think carefully enough about what I post? Like most parents, I initially engaged in Facebook to keep close tabs on my teenagers and now use it for my own purposes. I am often surprised by posts from adults that mention parties, ‘liquid’ lunches and show inappropriate photos of evenings out. It’s as if these parents are trying to portray themselves as either way too young or way too careless. It is inevitable that their children will one day be on Facebook (if they are not there already) and see what’s going on, and it isn’t hard to foresee how it could cause problems between parents and teenagers. To avoid the same mistake, my mantra is always the same – would my posts embarrass my teenagers?
My two older teens have been warned repeatedly. Language, red cups, and attire speak volumes about a person.
I am a teacher; I maintain relationships on Facebook with students, and I have an obligation to keep a page that reflects exactly what I expect from my own teens. No parties, no booze, nothing that portrays a negative impression. I cannot expect my children to respect my husband or me if we don’t do the same.
Social networking has deeply impacted our ability to parent the way we thought we would. Our teens are barraged with images, ideas and photos of friends and siblings that can be at best sketchy, at worst, inappropriate. I can’t condone my 21-year-old posting drunken pictures of beer pong championships with his younger siblings watching. Many may disagree with me, but that Facebook page can cause heartache if not used with discretion.
I worry about the impact of adult FB indiscretions. Professionally, how can I expect people to hire me if I am posting ridiculous pictures of evenings and parties that are nobody’s business? And what message does that send to my teenagers?
The cartoon that Your Teen republished beautifully alludes to just that. It is my job as a parent to send my children the message that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have a limited role in communication. I have modeled it for my kids: Keep your private life to yourself, and give great thought to what you post on that page.