Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Facebook and the Temptations of a Teenage Boy

As a mom of a 13-year old boy, I find Facebook a sort of treasure chest that's waiting to open up a whole host of secret delights. Treasure or it could be a Pandora's Box couldn't it? I guess that's just the risk you take when you give your teens consent to set up their own Facebook accounts.

Denying a teenager a Facebook  account is denying them their social freedom and their way of staying in touch with their friends. (At least that was the one key argument that I heard before I relented and allowed Facebook.) I'm doing what I can to keep tabs on my kids and Facebook is just one tactic that I employ. I've heard about all of the evils of Facebook and the teenage set—cyber-bullying, inappropriate pictures that get posted, and comments lodged out into cyberspace that a kid wouldn't dare utter in a face-to-face conversation. I understand all of that and so far have not had much of a problem.

I've learned some interesting things about my teenage son via Facebook. This should come as no surprise to him because it is all out there on Facebook anyway. I think of it as a portal.

My son has a "Friend" who is a girl who happens to post on his Facebook page quite often. She thinks he is the "hottest guy alive!" Okay, maybe that's one relationship to keep an eye on. Sometimes I'll run across a random, but incredibly obnoxious, post slamming a least favorite teacher at school. That post must immediately be removed. Then there was the Facebook-driven rumor that started about having a Call of Duty (COD) X-Box gaming party during our Confirmation class one evening.  For those of you who don't know, COD is one of the most violent and expletive video games out there and not really a church friendly game. Needless to say I nixed the Confirmation COD party. Then there was the Facebook account that he set up for his 9-year old brother who was desperate for his own Facebook. Under the alias of Bob Huffle, the 9-year old's Facebook account was short-lived. I'm always the spoiler, but at least I'm a presence.

I've also learned that the true treasures of Facebook and teenage boys also lie in taking a peek at their "Friends" accounts. That's where you can really learn a lot about what is going on with your kid. It's not that he doesn't confide in me and I have resort to Facebook, it's just that there is a different side to him that appears on Facebook. I want to keep tabs on that side of him as well.

I do very regularly monitor his account and the account of his 15-year old sister. They are quite aware that I check up on them through Facebook; it's one of the criteria for having a Facebook page in the first place. No parental monitoring = no Facebook. I believe that parents who do not "Friend" their kids are just asking for trouble. Some teens may consider this "spying" on them. Yes, it is complete spying, but I do not have a problem with that. How else would I know that I'm the Mom of the "hottest guy alive!" I feel so honored.

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