The Dangers of Parents and Social Media

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Text from ‘Mother’: “Why won’t you accept me on Facebook? *sad, crying face*.”

Here we go, after about a year of protest she just wouldn’t let it go. Next I’m hit with a long list of her friends whose daughters have accepted them and how unfair I was being. Its not that I had anything to hide, I just didn’t want her knowing where I was and what I was doing. I finally cracked when I went on my year abroad, “but you never call me! At least if something happens to you I can contact one of your friends!” Facebook, therefore became a new platform allowing my parents to stalk their children for ‘safety reasons.’ One positive thing I’ve noticed since finally accepting my mother’s Facebook friend request is that I am always guaranteed a ‘like’ from her on every single post that I am tagged in. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them on my profile pictures and not to mention my rare Facebook statuses that no one seems to find quite as funny. The problem was, before I had been able to teach her ‘facebook etiquette,’ almost immediately after me having ‘accepted’ her, she started this habit of going through my friend’s photos and liking them from as long ago as 2010. I mean, seriously— this was six years down the line and none of us made very good choices at age 15.

It’s been a year and luckily nothing tragic has happened. My facebook photos are pretty tame compared to my siblings’. I do still get the odd text from her with a classic “look at your brother’s disgraceful piccies! He’s wearing a leotard. Lol!xxxx” My own personal Facebook related trauma did however take place when I finally arrived home for Christmas to my little welsh town that none of my uni friends can spell. Mum has a habit of taking pictures of the seals in the bay— we counted 100 last weekend! (We’re so countryside) Anyway, there I am looking through her phone photos to see the latest from the ‘bob’ of seals (yeah, that’s the word) and find at least twenty screen-shots from my Facebook. They were all from various nights out. “Oh, I love this one of you (photo of me in Canal Mills) its such a shame those people all have Zombie eyes in the background!” That’s not the end of it, those photos were all printed off and sent in frames to various relatives for Christmas presents!

I’ve complained to a number of friends about this blatant invasion of my privacy; liking a photo is one thing, but transferring it to iphone then to actual paper is another. They responded with a series of anecdotes that, to be honest, showed me that mum really isn’t that bad. Of course, there was the classic “my dad didn’t realise a wall post wasn’t a private message” but these following examples really do take the biscuit: it turns out that Family Facebook Faux pas are a problem that affect roughly 100% of young adults. Probably.

Firstly, some can actually be really adorable, as one friend said: “my boyfriend’s Mum is so cute, she prints out pictures of us and sticks them on the fridge.”

Another admitted that: “my Granddad always used the wrong emojis… he congratulated me on my A2 results with a series of angry faces.”

Then this classic mix up: “my Mum’s friend’s cat died and trying to be sympathetic, my mum wrote “Sorry to hear about you cat, LOL” thinking it meant Lots of Love.”

And onto my personal favourite: “My Dad used to think that everything on his Newsfeed was to him, so would comment on it all… One time, he saw that I had clicked attending to an Otley Run and commented; “but, you don’t run?””

Family members can also be naughty too, “There was a picture of my sister sitting crossed legged with her arms in the air in a meditating position. My Auntie commented, “It looks like you’re giving a double wank!” Terrible.

It’s not only Facebook that they need to be banned from, my mother’s Instagram comprises of no profile picture but she follows a total of 12 people; myself, my friends and the all of the various National Geographic accounts. The problem being that, as she follows so few people, every time I like a post, it will inevitably end up on her homepage prompting a text ten days later telling me that she’s seen it— as if I need to be informed!

A friend’s Grandma didn’t quite get the hang of Instagram either; “She has it to follow our family but kept saying all she was seeing was photos of football related things and a model. So, I went on her account and she had accidentally started following a ‘football gags’ page that my brother and cousins follow. The ‘model’ turned out to be this girl from my cousin’s school who posts loads of selfies!”

I can’t complain, and no doubt I will irreversibly hurt my Mum’s feelings with this article, and for that I can only apologise. To be fair to her, this is indeed a progression from those days when I had to explain what the difference was between ‘green text’ and ‘blue text’ not to mention when every iPhone update caused complete panic in the household. My mother’s latest penchant for emojis is to be admired! Whenever I send a needy ‘I’m ill ☹’ text, she’s there on hand with love hearts, flowers, stars, clouds, dogs, cats and whatever else she feels is an appropriate response.

Maybe I’m just a little spiteful about that whole ‘plugged in generation’ rhetoric. Those same people, who complained about young people living their lives through a screen, now have banal food blogs (usually just blurred pictures of their dinner) and have been able to get back in touch with old school friends. I mean, it was all so sensationalised and now parents are jumping on the bandwagon! A touch hypocritical methinks. Stranger danger is obviously a huge threat to Internet users, but ‘Parental Controls’ should work both ways.

Amelia Dunton

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