Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't Trust Anyone Under 30

Now that we are over 30, the tables have turned. As teens, our rebel cry was "don't trust anyone over 30". As parents (and grandparents) well over 30, teens of our own, the rebel cry has dramatically changed. With young people willing to chat about anything in the open forum of social media sites, parents are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of "friending" our children.

With about 50% of parents surprising their teens with a friend request on such sites as Facebook and MySpace, it seems there is little privacy for teens. Common Sense Media, a none-profit tracking teen use of social media reported that parents were not aware of what their children were doing online from chatting to sexting. In all honesty, I am friends with quite a few of students. There is great controversy from teens as well as the public scrutiny as to the propriety of this invasion of this social frenzy.

After talking with many parents this past week, I am inclined to agree with parents that it is necessary. My own father used to snoop through our rooms. I remember my outrage and his remark about not being my friend, he was my parent. More than 40 years later, I find that I have to be friends with my grandchildren, their friends and my students to parent them. Why? Have you read what the write? I don't spy, but I do call them on rants and bully efforts. My comment to their wall posts is simple - "you do know I read this, right?"

Parents told me of what they have found and yes, I believe it would be irresponsible parenting in this era of no holes barred social media to not monitor your under 18 year olds. Although teens have multiple accounts to thwart efforts of prying eyes, we still need to be on the front lines when it comes to protecting our kids.

Nothing beats an old fashioned conversation with your child. Keeping the lines of communication open on any subject, no matter how uncomfortable it is for both of you. But being proactive in all aspects of your child's life is just plain good parenting. Whatever generation you belong to, there will always be a parenting challenge between you and your teen. Stand your ground but never forget your teen years. Monitor your own social chat. Keep a distance that respects privacy, keep things in perspective and avoid gossip and keep it to yourself and your teen. That's what a wise grandma would do.

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