Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Social Media Police Mom

photo by Nate Arnold

When my oldest was ten years old we gave her her first computer... I remember setting it up in her room while she was swimming with friends in the backyard -I wanted to surprise her... It was a cheap bundle desktop - came with everything - Very basic... I set it up so she could go on the Internet for homework and to email her grandparents... This was way before social media became popular - this is before FaceBook... But still I wanted to keep her safe - so I put parental protection through America Online... I believed I was doing my part.... and I was SOOO WRONG...

First off - AOL is only one of many browsers - I had no idea there were more... But my kid knew... So the sites I thought she could not go into - she became an active participant in and I had no idea until she let it slip one day... Because this had been going on for quite awhile and my kid knew what she was doing was wrong - she lost her computer for a while... I gave her several chances as time went on but she kept losing this privilege. When she was 14 - I bought her and her sister both a laptop - the desktop was no longer any good... We as parents explained the rules to both girls - no computer at bedtime... homework time.. no chatrooms etc... They both signed an agreement and I hung it in my home office.... All was good for the most part until.... Facebook came along...

Today - Facebook rules the world... Really.... In the car this morning - my 13 year old was telling me how surprised she was that so many of her friends are on FB during school... And it's true... Just the other day - my high schooler posted a silly status from her Spanish class saying something about her and a friend wearing crazy snow globes at Target.. No idea what she was talking about... typical high school funny stuff - but I did text her and asked her to call me on her first break.... She said the teacher said it was okay... yea sure she did.... It is not unusual for my kids to run to their cellphone - IPod - computer to do a FB status update... Whatever happens - goes on FB... I have to admit - I am often guilty of this too.. It's fun to stay in touch with friends but there have to be boundaries.... for my kids and for me...

My kids will forget about homework and/or sneak onto FB when they are suppose to be studying.. I have caught them many times... Today - I take all their electronic devices away during homework and I have seen an increased improvement on homework and grades.. That's not to say they don't ever sneak on when they are working on an assignment for school on the computer - but it's much better. I no longer allow them access to a computer in their bedrooms - it's all downstairs where I can monitor.. On many days I feel like a police officer and I hate that... but the end result is - I have to be the adult and make boundaries when my kids can't or won't.... I see the big picture.. whereas someday soon I hope they will see it too.. Until then - I am the FB and social media police - this includes texting... On a side note - texting can be just as bad if not worse than FB - I love the fact that I can have parental controls on that too - I can block people - I can create cell usage time frames and I can disable and have only numbers I choose... I hate to put controls on the phones and for the most part I don't have to - I use controls as a last resort if their grades are dropping - they neglect their chores... etc...

The Internet can be so dangerous - it opens the door for unwanted people into your home... bullying.. It can show our kids things that they are not ready for.... Many times I wish my kids did not need to use the Internet but unfortunately it is here to stay and schools expect the kids to have access to a computer at home - many of their assignments are on the computer.. It's crazy.....

Some parents may think I am too controlling and that I should allow my kids to do what they want and not check on their activity... Some think that I should let my kids learn from their mistakes... and they may be right but I need to do what I feel is right for me... and my kids so today - and most likely tomorrow too - I will be The Social Media Police Mom...

This is a scene from Cyber Bully - I have seen best friends turn against their friend on FB and the awful things that can happen..

A mom's biggest fear - and I believe this can happen very easily..... A couple of years ago my oldest met a boy on-line - within 24 hours they were "in-love" - it was a very scary time... Thankfully - my daughter went to her counselor at school and talked about this boy and other life issues.... I think she was lucky... I think we all were....


  1. ok, so now I'm crying. Wow! You keep on being the Mom, the Cyber Police and keep your girls safe. Thankfully, mine are all grown now, but it's the wee, wee ones we'll be watching out for, the Grands. What a scary world it has gotten to be.

  2. I think you are wise to be the cyber police and I think the parents who may think you are controlling are frankly fools for not keeping better tabs on what their kids are doing online. There are always stories about girls meeting guys online, etc and you know how those stories usually end up. Better safer than sorry I say!

    "They" (whoever they are) say it is good to have the computer out in the open where people can see what sites anyone is on. It is also a good thing for people that struggle with other issues that online makes so prevalent like viewing pornography for instance. I know there are also services you can pay for that provide a list of sites kids (or anyone for that matter) visit.

    You are a great mom for monitoring them. I honestly don't know how teachers get anything taught these days with kids with cell phones texting during class, etc. It must be a nightmare for the teachers.

  3. It's called parenting. So many parents confuse that with permissive buddying. They don't want to set limits in their kid's lives. What will these kids do when they try to get jobs that actually DO have boundries????

  4. This is so true and so scary. I get nervous just thinking about the way my girls are growing up compared to how I grew up. Information is everywhere now, which is good and bad. Thanks for sharing, liz



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