It was just over a year ago, that we sat down with my then newly 13 year old daughter and discussed the rules of her creating her own Facebook page. Our rule had always been that she must wait until she was 13 and at that time we would allow her to have one…pending certain rules be followed. As we discussed the rules, I handed Mady a card from my rolodex. Looking at me with a puzzled face, we are asked “what’s this for?” That my dear, is for your username and password. This allowed us to set rules and boundaries and also make sure they were being followed by periodically logging in to check what’s going on. I was pleased that despite the puzzled look, Madyson created her page and provided us with the information without any hesitations. Yes…we are those parents. The ones that monitor every thing we can. Not everyone agrees with these steps. Some people think we are taking it too far…or invading their privacy. However, we feel it’s the best way to not only keep her safe, but also set expectations and ensure she is making wise choices. I realize we can’t control every little thing…but we can take these small steps to do what we can as parents. And let’s be honest…she’s a teenager living at home….privacy only goes so far.
It didn’t take long after her Facebook page went live for the friend count to pile up and the posts to begin. Not long after Facebook, she then was diving into the Instagram world as well. I’ve seen those “selfies” of girls my daughters age in the barely there clothing, bellies showing, bare skin visible and attitude prevalent. Believe it or not I was once a teenage girl myself. Yes, many, many years ago but still. I know how easy it is to fall into “what everyone else is doing”. If I have any influence on my kids, it will be to be who they are as individuals and pay no mind to what others are doing.
Now I will say that I’ve seen a few “duck face” selfies of Mady on her page….but they aren’t laced with an attitude that can be detected miles away or poor choice in attire. I don’t always understand photos of girls wearing clothes that are inappropriate (in my opinion) for the age. At 13 years old, aren’t the parents the ones shopping with or for the kids?? How does that happen??!! Back to the “duck face”…Not necessarily a fan of the “duck face” but if that’s the extent of it for Mady then I think we have done pretty good so far!
Madyson has had her Facebook now for a full year. I’ve not had to dole out any punishments related to her use of Facebook or Instagram. So far, so good. She enters high school this fall, so I know things can change. We have some tough years of raising a daughter ahead of us. Don’t get me wrong…she’s a straight A student that’s involved in sports, dance, and cheerleading. But come on…kids will be kids. And whether they are 7, 13 or 18 they are still just kids.
Last night we had our first experience with seeing some “drama” or “hate” come across her Facebook page. Madyson had posted a photo the day of her birthday party saying she was “Ready to Party”. Someone then made rude comments to Mady’s post, then proceeded to post on her own page about Madyson. I will say this….When that Mama Bear instinct kicks in, it’s so hard not to want to act irrational. However, we simply blocked the other girl from Mady’s page and moved on from it. She will not…we will not…return hate with more hate.
I remember the pediatrician saying to me a year ago that teenagers brains take years to develop the part that gives them forethought. That’s why they sometimes don’t make the greatest choices. I’m going to assume that this was what led to the comments being made. It’s all I have to go on really. Even at 33 years old, i will never understand why kids think it is OK to treat each other so badly.
And now..on top of the typical “bad behavior” they also have social media outlets at their fingertips to extend that behavior. Even we as adults know how easy it can sometimes be, or tempting, to post something since it’s just via a keyboard. No face to face contact required, so no repercussions right? WRONG!!! Now if only all the kids and teens and yes some adults could realize that. Words hurt! Whether they are face to face or being read on a screen. Once said, you cant take them back. It’s a done deal. The impression has done been left and isn’t forgotten easily in most cases.
If we can teach our kids one thing about social media it should be to THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK! If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then you shouldn’t type it either. Being mean doesn’t make you better…it just makes you mean! I know there are a lot of good kids out there that make great choices….i personally know many of them that do. It can be done! It is possible to be wise in your decision making and avoid hurting others.
Now with all this being said, I’m not completely oblivious or looking through rose colored glasses. I know that my daughter too will learn hard lessons along the way. However, i’m hoping that by our rules and our teachings within our home she will be less susceptible to fall into those bad decisions. I must say, having my husband work in the school district adds another element to things as well. Madyson knows that no matter where she is at school, everyone knows her dad. She may not like this so much as she hits high school this fall, but it sure adds some relief to this mama!
Moms and Dad’s out there….being a parent is hard! It’s a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year job. You don’t get downtime. You are always a parent no matter where you are! You have to always be on your toes and ready. It may be hard on us and them now….but they will thank us later for always being there when it mattered! And it ALWAYS MATTERS!