Your Teen and the Social Media Question

So it’s time for The Talk in the Bausinger household.

No, not that talk.

The scenario: I pick Mancub up from school. He tosses his backpack, binder and lunchbag in the back seat of the car with all the care of a baggage handler at the airport. The car groans from the weight of his treasures–for all I know he’s got bowling balls in there.

Don’t laugh. The first time I let him pack (for himself) for a weekend trip, he skipped the non-essentials such as clean t-shirts, deodorant and underwear. Instead, he brought what he viewed as nonnegotiable: his laptop (aka “the Craptop” ) and his discus for track which weighed approximately as much as 20 gold bouillon bars. I found this out when he splattered ketchup on his t-shirt and I told him to change.

 Let’s just admit that sometimes teens don’t make the best judgement calls. Heck, sometimes ADULTS don’t make the best judgement calls either.

bad judgement

Exhibit A: I decided to try on a hotel shower cap and pose for a photo at the church Ladies’ Retreat.

The conversation:

Anyway, the first thing he asks me is, “Mom, can I get on Twitter? Actually, can I get on social media altogether?”

Apparently, one of his teachers has been tweeting about his classes and the students have been talking about it. Those who follow  this  teacher on Twitter are in the “know” and those who don’t, well, don’t.

I’ve been avoiding this as best I can…I know many of his friends have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I’ve been able to say, “No Nate. IT’S AGAINST THE LAW FOR KIDS TO HAVE FACEBOOK.”

Technically this was true up until last year because you’re not supposed to sign up for Facebook until you’re at least 14. I could totally blame it on the rules, but now I can’t chicken out anymore. It’s totally my call to say yes or no.

But now, it’s not really Facebook anymore. Twitter is still hot (#awesome), but more and more Instagram, and something even more terrifying to me: Snapchat. It’s an app that allows the user to take photos “in the moment” with the mistaken idea that there’s no permanent record of the interchange. This kind of creeps me out.

Here’s a link to an article: “A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat”

According to NPR, teens are getting away from Facebook because they feel the old geezers (which is pretty much anyone who would actually use the term “geezer”) are taking over. They want their own geezer-free zone.

Read the Blanca Bosker’s article “Teens are Leaving Facebook for Facebook” on the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/11/teens-facebook_n_5127455.html

As a college professor, I can tell you that schools and bosses, as well as potential bosses, immediately Google for information on prospective employees and students. In fact, an employer I used to work for had a guy whose entire job was to find employees on social media and to see how they were representing the company. Yes, this is absolutely true.

Anyway, it just seems like a bad idea to me. Since teens are not the best decision makers, it seems reckless to give them access to such a powerful platform. It’s similar to giving a kid who’s never driven a car the keys to an 18-wheeler.

But you know what? They’re already on there. Many of them have Facebook and Instagram accounts already.

They are Skyping their friends instead of calling. They talk to strangers all the time with online gaming. Many of them have smartphones with unlimited internet access which makes it nearly impossible to monitor their activity. Sure, there are apps available, and my son’s password for his computer is fair game. I can check his activity, the sites he visits, how long he stayed there, and what time his computer was in use. Is this creepy? Maybe.

There’s a fine line between freedom and peril. We have to know what our kids are doing online. Period.

I told Mancub that he could begin with Facebook but that the same rule applied to him that applied to his sisters: I get to be his friend and have access to his password. Of course he’s super excited about this.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What social media sites do you allow your teens to be a part of? Do you monitor their use? 

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