Last month, a rather embarrassing thing happened to me. A friend of mine tattled on one of my kids. She came to me and rather sheepishly advised me about something she saw of of my children say online.
Great. Now, you’ve got to know: I was sure it wasn’t my child. After all, my child had been advised that they were not to be on the Internet at all for a period of time. There was no way it was my kid. I was sure.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I was wrong. To be clear, it wasn’t the thing my teen said that was the issue. It was the fact that we have rules about what apps they can use what which ones they may not use. It was also a clear violation of the agreement we had about Internet use for that particular week. As in, the kids were told they were NOT to be online. They had been grounded for other reasons from using social media. It was the violation of trust that was the real issue.
I won’t like to you; having another parent tattle to me about my child was embarrassing, but I’m so glad she did! Without that information, my husband and I would have been in the dark about something we needed to know about.
Let me say that again: I’m so glad that someone had the courage to tell me something that I would not have known otherwise.
Years ago, I began telling some of my friends that they had my permission to spy on my kids online. I call it our “Sisterhood of Spies.” We look out for each other. If we see our kids doing something sketchy online or in real life, we’re not afraid to talk about it. We talk openly about the tough stuff of life. In one case I would say it literally saved a child from traveling down a very dark road.
So yes. I’m a spy for my friends. I’ve made a few uncomfortable phone calls to mom friends over the years, too. Do my kids know that I have spies? You betcha. They never know who’s mom is looking over which child’s shoulder when they’re online. It’s fantastic!
You’ve heard that love must be tough, right? Well sometimes, parental love must also be shrewd. Here are two reasons I will always be as social media savvy as I can be:
- I want to be able to see who my children are interacting with. You can tell A LOT about a kid by what they post on their Facebook page or Instagram. I want to be very aware of the kinds of people my kids “hang out” with online and in person.
- I want to be able to navigate the changing face of social media so that I speak the same language that my teens speak. Listen, when you’re in France, best to know just a little French. (Ask me how I know this.) On the Internet, a little knowledge of the language will help you be a better parent.
I hope you have friends who will be part of your Sisterhood. If you don’t have a SOS, see about asking a few friends to be part of your parenting SOS, especially if your children are online.
Parents can’t be everywhere, but together, we can be more places. Especially online. Be social media savvy!