I’ve got My Ranty Pants on…..Again

So I have my ranty pants on tonight.  Most of my ranting of late is to do with social networking and teenagers.  Basically because I have a teenager and he lives and breaths social networking.  Don’t get me wrong – I am quite obviously in to social networking, but the past six months or so have opened my eyes way more than I am comfortable with in regards to the way our teenagers are portraying themselves to the world.

And here are just a couple of examples why…..

I’ve been banging on to Lochie about being aware of what he is “liking” on FB.  The fact that when I look through my newsfeed I can see that he likes 50 girls status’s and/or photos of them leaning forward in to the camera lens with their tongue hanging out the side of their mouths makes me queasy.  Not because he likes that sort of shit – he’s a teenage boy with a pulse – but because these girls are putting that crap up there for him and a million other boys and possibly pedophiles to see….

The fact that I can then (if I wanted to) right click on any of said photos and save them to my computer makes me ill.  And I’m a harmless, 37 year old Mother of four.  Who else could save these photos to salivate over???

Then there’s the posts he likes from ridiculous FB pages and/or groups.  One of them was beautifully titled “Straya C*nts”.  Lovely.  Let’s just say I was able to delete this page from his list whilst I still had his password…  I pointed out to my beloved son that not only was I seeing this shit in my newsfeed, so were his grandparents and potentially anyone else who had eyesight.  I am no prude, and have been known to drop the odd “C” bomb, but would not and could not in front of my parents or grandparents.

Last week was the straw that broke the camel’s Mummy’s sanity!  Now that Instagram is gaining a tight hold on everyone, it seems a young girl whom I’m assuming is probably quite charming, has named herself “Infinity Whore”……and Lochie is “following” her.  There are so many things wrong with this scenario I don’t even know where to begin.  The bottom line is this – no 14 year old girl should be naming herself in any way, shape or form a Whore.  Not for amusement, not for popularity and certainly not for anything but degradation.  Unfortunately it took quite a few conversations, raised voices and the reality that he will some day in the near future have two sisters the same age as this girl, to finally get through to him that this was NOT OK.  Oh, and a phone call to his Father threatening not to pay phone bills or give him access to any form of internet and/or phone if he did not use communication tools in a way I find respectable.

  I posted this on his FB page and we spoke about it.  I think I’m on track….
{Source unknown due to random FB post}

To top all of this, last night whilst scrolling through  FB world, I see my darling son has liked a young girl’s status about it being nice to know that some people care out there.  For some unknown reason it raised my curiosity, and when I clicked on this girl’s page I was horrified.  There were several posts about wanting to kill herself.  About how close she lives to a train line.  And that she had tried to kill herself the previous night.  As I read through it all, I wondered who her parents were?  I wondered who I could contact to let them know their baby was in trouble?  And as I scrolled down this stranger’s page, I recognised two other children in her photos…….  They just happen to be a friend’s children, and after emailing said friend, I find out this morning that she is the friend’s step-daughter.

My friend was very grateful I had emailed her, and during a phone call this morning explained that the young girl had been banned from FB, but had obviously opened up her own account and gone on to block all family members from any access to her page.  What she didn’t think about was the ever growing six degrees of separation that FB has helped to create and make public.  Her step-mother now has screen shots of her page so she can somehow deal with the situation at hand.

Now I questioned my actions this morning.  Should I have butted in?  Should I have made contact and let this girl’s family know what was going on?  I DID NOT HESITATE.  I would want someone – anyone, to butt in and contact me if God forbid I had no idea.  And as another friend pointed out – I could not live with myself if I hadn’t and something happened.

It has also made me wonder how parents are dealing with the 24/7 presence of social media in our children’s lives?  Another friend asked me last week how long I thought it would be before Lochie would no longer allow me to be friends with him on FB?  Ummmmmm – how about NEVER?!?!  We have rules in this family – and many relate to his usage of FB.  I believe that having his password for the first couple of years he was on there was the single most smartest thing I could have done.  I picked up so many inappropriate things, but turned them in to lessons for him.  He knows that if he wants to use FB, he needs to follow my wishes of using it respectfully – OR HE WON’T HAVE IT.  As I said to him last week – having his phone, laptop and unlimited access to WiFi is a PRIVILEGE,  NOT A RIGHT.  And I am more than happy to remove his privileges whenever I see fit…..

Sooooo……….how are you dealing with your kids and social media?  Would you alert a parent to a potential issue on their child’s page?

Discuss…..


9 Responses to I’ve got My Ranty Pants on…..Again

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh how times have changed. We did not have social networking to worry about with our kids (one of which is your husband of course). We still did have the issues of whether or not to butt in when things came to our attention about other peoples’ children.

    I took the same approach that you have – on at least 2 occasions that I can remember. One situation resulted in the child receiving help – opefully that wirked out in the end. I did not know the family personally – so do not know how things worked out in the end.

    The second situation resulted in the loss of a friendship as the parents chose to turn a blind eye to what was going on with their son. I know that this child (now in his 30s) suffers from drug induced psychosis and does not have much of a life at all.

    I can sleep easy at night however knowing that I gave his family the information they needed to help him while that help could have turned his life around. The fact they chose not to follow that path was out of my control.

    I agree with your approach to these situations. It will happen at some point that the families involved will not share your view. But you must do what you feel is right and stand by that decision whatever the consequences. If you save the reputation and/or life of one child – it is worth it.

  2. Karen says:

    You wear your rant pants any time you want lovely!! As a mother of a 13 year old boy – I relate so well to what you have said and yes, I have done the same and let someone know what I read about their child on my sons fb page. So far the outcome is OK. God help us all with social media and our kids !!!

  3. I am always interested in reading your rants! I think you did the right thing stepping in and telling the parents. You’ve done what you should do, now it’s their turn to step up. These things you’ve shared are exactly why I stay home with my kids now. I was a high school teacher and my days (and nights) were turning more and more into me being the parent of teenagers who didn’t have the family support needed for them to grow into successful adults. I had several students who called themselves my “other daughters” and eventually I felt like I was raising them while sending my own kids to daycare half the day and letting someone else raise them. I wish parents were more involved in the raising of their kids, like you are. I do plan to go back to work when my kids are older, but this time working in the public library. I can still be involved in teenagers’ lives, but not to the degree I was when I taught. It is too difficult to not step in and help out when you can, but I have my own family now and need to focus my energy into raising my own kids.

    Now about the social media part, what is the right age to get a kid a phone? My daughter is turning 7 and I lean toward allowing her to have one sooner, but my husband is opposed. I just would feel safe knowing she could call me if there was some type of emergency (I taught on the day of 9/11 and it was very comforting for the kids to be able to call their parents just to make sure everyone was ok) or if God forbid something happened we could track her with her phone. I don’t know about Facebook. I am just a few years on the old side of being very competent with the computer and tied into using Facebook, so I don’t understand the allure or use it that much. Email was just coming into fashion when I was in college. I’ll need all the help I can get when my kids are older!

    • MsMidge says:

      Hey jamie Lee…..I think the decision on ages for when a children can have a phone or a fb account are very personal, however, we gave my son a phone for Christmas when he was 12, just before he started high school. And he was allowed a facebook account around the same time, but with VERY strict rules and regulations. You sound like you are a brilliant teacher AND mother, we all have to put our own kids first, so good on you! x

  4. PS Are you working on a new quilt?

  5. Unknown says:

    I send you my heartfelt support! I have young ones who I am not sure I will let have a Facebook account for the above reasons! I see how treacherous a ‘fun’ thing can be and am worried for the many influences it may have on our childrens unseasoned minds. What they see as fun, is now easily demoralised and something that can be out of control so quickly!

  6. Toni says:

    HOO boy.

    ABSOLUTELY you did the right thing concerning that girl. She may not thank you for it but you might have saved her life.

    I haven’t allowed my kids to use Facebook till they were 15 or so, and it aint gonna happen beforehand.

    With phones, we’ve allowed them to have a phone when they got their first jobs. And the deal is, they pay for their own credit.

    We’re mean.

    Did you see the phone contract story in the paper not long ago?
    You’re not the only parent who’s concerned about social media and kids.
    http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/i-will-always-know-the-password-mother-gives-son-an-iphone-for-christmas-along-with-18point-contract-20130103-2c68e.html

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