One of the many things I am thankful for is that social media wasn’t around when I was in college. My life would probably be a lot better documented if it was, but I’m still glad that there isn’t photographic evidence posted on the Internet of every stupid decision I made in my early 20′s. I’m also very glad that my mom doesn’t know about all of those decisions. New studies show that 72% of moms have a Facebook account. They also show that half of the parents on Facebook are using it to spy on their kids. I can effectively say that I dodged a huge bullet – but my kids are probably screwed.
According to this infographic, 92% of moms that use Facebook are “friends” with their kids. My mother is 76. She refuses to even turn on a computer because she is truly afraid that if she touches a single key on the keyboard the computer will implode on itself and civilization as we know it will end. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but she isn’t what you would call “Internet savvy.” I’m actually friends with a few of the mothers of childhood friends on Facebook now, but we are all adults and our relationships have changed from parent-child to actual friends.
Honestly, I don’t have a problem with parents using Facebook to “spy” on their younger kids. I wouldn’t even call it “spying” since a Facebook account is on the Internet and depending on the size of their circle of friends, hundreds of other people are seeing it too. I think that times change and parenting, people and habits change with them. If I had a college-aged child it would probably be really hard for me to refrain from using Facebook to see what they were getting into.
As a parent of tweens and teenagers it is pretty necessary to keep dibs their online habits. The Internet is a public and dangerous place. I feel fine about monitoring a child’s use. Once that child progresses to college, though, I think it’s time to let go of the reigns a little. Kids need to spread their wings and learn how to be competent, decision-making adults. That’s what college is for. College is also for making stupid decisions and messing up a little. You can’t protect your children from that. Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them. And if you spend enough time teaching your children what is and isn’t appropriate in the world of Internet when they are kids, hopefully by the time they get older they will have had the necessary lessons to prepare them for independence online and off.