kids on facebook: the “sleepover ” effect

  • PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

if your kid is on facebook, and you are not monitoring their page, you are crazy — and let me go ahead and go there — NEGLIGENT. i know some parents pride themselves on being “cool” and being “friends” with their kids — how convenient! too bad it doesn’t stop your sons/daughters from bullying, talking like gutter trash, posting whorish photos, and/or putting theirs/yours/anybody else’s business out there on front street for the world to see.   i guarantee you that the mother of the girl i recently spoke against for suggesting that adults “suck her cock” has no idea that her little girl is talking like that on facebook.  one has to wonder who is on the child’s “friend” list.  nobody should have to wonder, however, about who is actually responsible.  wake up! or don’t say you weren’t warned or play the “how could this happen” card when your kid ends up victimizing or victimized.

that being said, i am certainly not suggesting that your kid will not cross the line if you are monitoring their online activity — i have one who is especially determined that i should “mind my own business” — but the last time i checked, if you are under 18, and i gave birth to you, everything you do is my business!  and who pays the internet/cell phone bills? even if they chip in on that w/ earnings from their part-time jobs — so?!  if they’re not 18, they can’t sign a contract for these services anyway.  it is by your grace that they are permitted the privilege to communicate in this manner, and if they can’t act/talk/type like they have some sense — partially because their frontal lobes aren’t fully developed — that’s where you, the parent, comes in.  don’t tell me you have time to run 18 virtual farms/cafes/whatever the latest time-consuming rage is now, post pictures of everything you and everybody else in your family does, and comment on all your friend’s status updates, but don’t know who your kid is talking to or what they are talking about online.

  • “PERPETUAL SLEEPOVER”

when i was a kid, it was a rare privilege to have somebody spend the night, or be allowed to spend the night at someone else’s house.  i can still remember two of my favorite sleepovers very vividly — the end of 5th grade at kathy edmonds’s house with tracy alexander and the end of 6th grade at jennifer cox’s house, with brandi anderson, wendy cox, and christa martin.   we stayed up all night, watching movies, eating, gossipping about everybody we knew or ever heard about, playing practical jokes and/or scaring the crap out of each other.  we literally wore ourselves out.  until those occasions occurred — and, again, in my life, they were extremely rare, we didn’t really know how good or bad we had it compared to someone else.  we didn’t know what all of our friends were doing every minute of every hour of every day.  we didn’t know, and we were better for it, because we were asleep or doing chores or homework, or reading a book, or playing outside. cellphones and social networking changed everything, creating a perpetual “sleepover,”  whereas kids are ALWAYS ON.  if an update comes in before they fall into REM sleep — well, who needs that anyway besides EVERYBODY?

kids nowadays are known to sleep with their phones beside their face, ’cause god forbid they miss a text message or status update! how could life as they know it go on if they didn’t immediately become aware of the existence of the latest cryptic remark about unrequited love, or how much someone loves/hates so-and-so, or how much someone’s life sucks, or how they can’t f-ing wait until they turn 18.   kids today desperately want to do/have everything they know their friends do/have.  my memaw used to call this phenomenon “keeping up with the Jones-es,” i.e., “we ain’t keeping up with the Joneses!”   i had occasion to hate the Jones-es for doing/ having everything i didn’t, but not too often, ’cause there weren’t that many sleepovers, unlike today, where the party never stops.  and while there is nothing wrong with talking to/commiserating with your friends, the sleepover needs to end occasionally.  otherwise, when are any of them functioning optimally?  and if you think they are, either this message does not apply to your super-conscientous kid, or they’ll be even MORE amazing after you pull the plug, ’cause,  again, that’s where you, the parent, comes in.  i wouldn’t be surprised to find a correlation between the perpetual sleepover, and the the increase in teenage depression, self-harm, and even suicide.  someone will undertake this study soon.  if i were at all confident in my researching/statistical powers, i would do it myself.  my friends/colleagues are welcome to jump right in there.  just remember, you heard it here first 😉

it is a fact that potential employers check facebook before making hiring decisions — it is a resource that provides an inside view into the personality/character of potential applicants.  it is as useful a tool for parents to at least attempt to shape the personality/character of their children — in the very least into something worth hiring, unless you plan on paying their cellphone/internet bills for the rest of your/their lives.  it could even save their lives.  the internet is still a very dangerous place.  some people don’t believe me when i say that.  to hear them tell it, i am the lamest, most paranoid/intrusive/abusive mother to lay down and bring forth life.  but i have been in the business (of criminology and craziness) long enough to know better than some people — and i will not hesitate to ask a grown man what business he has telling my minor child she is “hot”, and/or asking if he would like to remove himself as a “friend” or explain his interest in children to the authorities.  (reality check:  if you are over the age of 18, and i don’t know you, you can’t possibly be my child’s “friend.”)  that’s my job.  it’s everyone’s job who has a kid old enough to act like they’re grown on the internet.  so please, govern yourselves (and your children) accordingly.

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