When I became a mother, I promised myself that I would never read my children’s diaries unless I had real cause for concern over their health or well-being. After all, my children should get their own privacy.
But is Facebook or Instagram comparable to a diary? Is following your teenager’s chatter the same as reading their diary? While I don’t think it’s the same as spying, my kid might be put off if I were to scroll through their Facebook or Instagram account.
One late night of no sleep, I decided to download pictures of my kids. I went to each child’s Facebook and Instagram pages to look through their photo albums.
And then there was the picture—my daughter embracing an unknown boy. Several times.
So began the midnight spy adventure. From her Facebook album, I went to her wall. I followed the conversation between her and her friends. Then I searched Instagram for the tagged names in the photo. And so on and so on. I found all sorts of details about my daughter and her friends. None of this information was particularly difficult to acquire. After all, my daughter did not consider this information private.
But I felt terrible.
While the information is there for all to see, I knew she did not consider me, her mother, to be part of the “all.”
I knew that I was not welcome there. I knew that she would be disgusted to think that I cared enough about her social life to go through these machinations. Ironically, Facebook and Instagram are places where she shares her life with her friends, not her parents.
If this information is out there for the world to see, why does it still feel like I’m spying on my daughter by looking? What is a caring and curious mom of a tight-lipped teen to do?