If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you will know that I am partial to putting on my ranty pants. I get my knickers in a knot about all kinds of interesting bullshit – but mostly about teenagers and the way things are today.
Enter today’s post.
I think I’m doing an OK job as a parent. I think that my eldest son’s Dad and I, together with my husband and his Dad’s partner, are banding together in some kind of strange unity to get him through these revolting teenage years. If someone had of told me ten years ago that we would be working together, I would have laughed hysterically. But a couple of months ago, when our son decided it was time to “up the ante” and test the proverbial waters, we all joined forces to SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN.
And it’s worked. So far.
What I AM struggling with, is being aware of everyone else’s children. Being aware of what they’re up to, the shit they’re getting in to. And their parents being oblivious to it. Hey, I’m not saying I’m perfect – clearly not. It took almost six months for us to find out that our son had been feeding us bullshit sandwiches! But in relation to social media – I’m on it. I’m on his back – always have been, always will be. We have explained to him what is and what is not acceptable when on social media applications. That “liking” photos of scantly clad women with derogatory memes or FB pages called “Straya C*nt” not only offends me at times, it also shows up on all his other friends news feeds – including his grandmothers…….. and that is NOT acceptable. We have explained to him that just because a 15 year old girl has the username “Infinity_whore” (yes, you read that correctly), does not mean that it is OK. It in fact means that she is not only degrading herself, she is allowing others to think it’s OK to use such derogatory terms. NOT OK.
I could go on. And on. And on. I have so many tales to tell about instances we have had to pull him up and educate him on how we expect him to be using social media. And how it doesn’t matter whether other parents let their children use it – or in a lot of cases – don’t give a shit about how their children use it. What matters is how HE uses it.
I digress. The reason I chose to write AGAIN about this, today, is because I have found myself in yet another quandary in regards to knowing about a child’s behaviour and trying to decide whether or not to let said child’s parents know? I know the parents, from many years ago, but we are not friends as such. I have stewed on the information for a couple of weeks now, debating how I would divulge the information? Would I want to know if it were my young teenage daughter? Would I want to hear it from someone else? I put it out there late last night to my FB friends, and the resounding answer was YES.
So this morning I have been stewing further, going over several different drafts in my head, and have put it down in a FB message to before-mentioned Mother. I am still yet to send it.
Earlier this year, I wrote this status on my personal FB page, after reading THIS post on MamaMia:
“Some of you already know this, but to everyone else – I will contact you if I see your kids posting inappropriately on social media, or if they’re younger, just letting you know that their settings are public when perhaps you would like them to be private. I’m hoping you’d all do the same! Social media can be used so wonderfully – to engage with people in a wonderful way – it’s such a shame that it gets used so shitfully at times. xx”
And a whole lot of friends agreed to do the same. In the past couple of years, I’ve messaged, phoned and emailed parents when I’ve come across something I feel is either inappropriate or potentially dangerous with regard to their children. It is always received gratefully, and in some instances, the parents have had absolutely no idea what Facebook or Instagram even are.
My best piece of advice? Become an expert. An expert on social media. Learn how to use all forms of it. And check in on your children. See what they are “following”, “liking” and laughing at. Because without your direction and knowledge, they are trying to learn for themselves what is right and wrong. They are learning from other kids, who possibly don’t know what they’re doing either. Social media is a whole new world in terms of parenting. I was trying to work out what to compare it to – but I’ve come up with nothing. Nothing compares to the murky waters that social media has presented to us as parents. And I hate to think that anything ever will.
Are you navigating the murky waters of teenagers and social media? How’s it working for you?