Confessions of a proud Facebook stalker
Employers, high schools and colleges are watching your kids on Facebook. It's OK for you to do the same.
I am guilty of stalking my kids on Facebook.
Recently, “Saturday Night Live” had a short skit about mothers who stalk and my kids made sure I knew it was about me. Fine – guilty as charged. But I am a proud and honest stalker and I think my reasons are justified and fair.
I have always felt that Facebook is a privilege for young teens and in order for my children to have a Facebook page, they had to “friend” my husband and me. The obvious truth is that Facebook is a phenomenon so intense and so remarkable it has changed the way we do business and interact with people. Huffington Post reports that by June 2011 Facebook had 700 million users. That’s an enormous attraction for an incredible amount of people around the world. The concern I have is with young teens and adults who make poor choices when it comes to posting pictures and comments. If you’ve surfed Facebook recently I am sure that you have, without difficulty, come across a comment or photo of a child you know that made you uncomfortable.
Really uncomfortable actually, and maybe even a bit sad.
Facebook is a window to the world and our children simply do not have the good sense to always know what is appropriate and what is not. Nobody wants to see a provocative picture of a young lady in junior high school or a post about how drunk a group of high school students got one weekend. Our kids have no idea how dangerous and detrimental that can be, so my daily click to assess their good judgment and safety is something they’ll just have to endure.
Parents of teens who are on Facebook will tell you their kids are addicted. Young teens are motivated by having everyone know who they are with, what they are doing and how fast they can tell the world. Pictures of weekend parties, school functions and vacations are posted minutes after being taken. When it’s innocent and fun, there’s no harm but it can lead to what I believe is “viral status” and immediate social gratification. Our children are in a rush to accept friendship requests from other people they hardly know at all. They allow themselves to be photographed with other teens who might be engaged in something they are not – but it is guilt by association on Facebook. They cannot comprehend the dangerous repercussions of this behavior and they are the last to recognize the risks of being “tagged.” Make no mistake – Big Brother is watching and the consequences can be devastating for a teenager.
We know Glenbrook North is checking Facebook and it should come as no surprise that students lose the opportunity to participate in athletics and activities should something appear improper. The telltale red plastic cup or beer bottle makes it very hard to defend careless actions once they’re posted - and that’s just the beginning. It is also out there for the world to see and our kids don’t get a second chance
Colleges are screening applicants via Facebook and serious applicants are encouraged to maintain a “clean page.” According to Kaplan Test Prep, 82 percent of admissions officers use Facebook as a tool for recruiting prospective students.
In 2009, the New York Times reported that over 45 percent of employers interviewed by CareerBuilder.com confirmed they are using social networking sites to screen job candidates. The article goes on to state that references to drinking and drugs and provocative photos will cost a potential employee the job. So, we have to ask ourselves, is it worth making your child a little uncomfortable to have Mom and Dad as “friends” on Facebook? I think so.
There have been moments where I have suggested my kids remove a statement they posted or a photo that might not have been appropriate for the world to see. As we navigate the road of social networking together, it’s given us plenty of interesting dinner time conversations. I know they are beginning to understand the value in thinking before they post. There are lessons to be learned along the way regarding safety, good judgment, and reputation and I view it as part of my job as a mom to ensure these situations get the required discussions they deserve. I’m going to continue to do my daily stalk and I suspect at some level, my kids are grateful for the extra set of eyes.