This morning I read an article by Michelle Slatalla on nytimes.com called “‘omg my mom joined facebook.” I had to chuckle because this woman actually created a Facebook page to spy on her daughter while she was off to college.
Ms. Slatalla writes,
“After I got my Profile page, the first thing I did was to search for other members — my daughter and her friends — to ask them to be my friends.
Shockingly, quite a few of them — the friends, not the daughter — accepted my invitation and gave me access to their Profiles, including their interests, hobbies, school affiliations and in some cases, physical whereabouts.”
This is like snooping in your kid’s bedroom but while taking on the identity of someone else so your he/she doesn’t realize it’s you.
I admit, I have a Facebook page but like my college son, I too am in college. I have used it for campus networking, contacting “friends” about missed assignments, and create study groups. My son and I have written on each other walls and shared pictures back and forth. It is kind of weird to have “friends” the same age as my son but I consider them nothing more than classmates and acquaintances.
I guess my son and I have a better relationship than many parents and kids but that could be because of our 18 year age difference. Although I have been shocked to see the occasional pictures of my son tagged in his friend’s pictures (like the one with his new lip ring – UGH!) I have NEVER pretended to be someone else to spy on him.
I asked both of my sons if it they think it’s creepy to have their mom on Facebook and both have said that as long as I wasn’t spying, it isn’t. I’m fortunate though. I think because of the way that I have raised both of my sons, our lines of communication are very open and we have always been able to sit down with one another to discuss things most parents and teens have a hard time talking about. I know there are many things they don’t tell me but trust is the issue here. Although parents don’t want to admit it, there comes a time when you must cut the umbilical cord and let your child learn to become an adult. This first stepping stone is sending them off to college.
I have read other articles very similar to Ms. Slatalla’s regarding other social networking sites such as Xanga and MySpace. It takes a lot of will power not to spy on your kids, especially if your intent is to make sure they are staying away from drugs and inappropriate behaviors. Knowing that I have raised my sons with similar morals and values, I must constantly remind myself to trust them and know that I cannot keep them attached to my hip forever. I only wish the best of luck to Ms. Slatalla and her daughter.