Is there an ethical obligation for parents to be involved, or not involved, in their child’s social media life?

The question I have chosen relates to parents becoming involved, or not involved, in their child’s social media accounts. After reading this question, I reflected on my own experiences with my parents and their involvement on my social networks. I have always been open with my parents (or tried to be) throughout high school, but I did not accept my mom’s friend request on Facebook until I was in college and felt like she could now see my life developing as a young adult away from home. My parents do not have an Instagram, but I always show them mine if they ever want to see pictures. My parents also do not have a Twitter, and do not have much interest in accessing mine. The other social media account that both my mom and I have an account on is Snapchat, which we are friends on. I am comfortable with her having access to “My Story,” and I love being able to send her snapchats whenever and wherever! If I was younger I probably wouldn’t like my parents having access to any of my accounts, but I feel as though monitoring social media is very important and that parents should keep tabs on what their children are up to. In middle school and younger I think parents do have an ethical obligation to be involved in social media, and as they get older give them free roam with some things until they’re old enough to be fully comfortable sharing their lives on the internet with them.

I decided to go online and do some research. Forbes online talks about the increase in activity on social networking sites such as Facebook for kids between the ages of 9-12 years old. The site only allows users 13 years and over to make an account, but many lie about the year they were born and get around it. It also explained that the privacy settings of Facebook are different between the ages of 13-18 and 18 and over. When the child’s account turns 18 (if they did in face lie about their age) their privacy settings will change drastically and they may not realize it. What I found to be most interesting about this article is that there are apps that exist such as Mamabear that allows parents to monitor their child’s social media account. In addition, it helps parents have “the talk” about social media and the importance of keeping profiles private and not accepting strangers on their accounts.

I found a blog site called KQED that discusses the question of parents becoming involved in the social media lives of their children and how schools should partner with them. Similar to my own opinions, it talks about parents having a big involvement when their kids are young and then allowing for more privacy as they get older. It gave an example of a mom who found out her 11 year old daughter had an account on the social media site Zorpia through checking her e-mail and after doing some research about the site decided that her daughter was too young for an account (note: the mother and daughter have an agreement that allows her mother to have the password to her e-mail account). The mother then made the school aware that her daughter had this account to let them know what was going on off-campus and allow for them to let other parents know of the possibility of their children also having an account on this site. Ultimately, I feel as though schools should provide parents with the groundwork to talking to their kids about social media. They could suggest questions to ask (which this blog provides) such as: How would you respond if a stranger tried to contact you on a social media site? What would you do if you found out one of your friends was talking to a stranger online? When would you go to an adult for help if something uncomfortable happened? Why are you interested in social media sites? Where do you find out about them? What do your friends say?

Conclusively, I feel as though parents DO have an ethical obligation to be involved in their child’s social media accounts. How much involvement should depend on the age of the child and how often they use the sites. I think that we are now in a time period where all parents should have “the talk” about social media and asks their children the important questions listed above in order to get a read on how involved the parents need to be.

Sites:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2013/01/24/why-every-parent-needs-to-talk-to-their-kids-about-social-media/

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/04/how-should-schools-and-parents-be-involved-in-kids-online-lives/

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3 thoughts on “Is there an ethical obligation for parents to be involved, or not involved, in their child’s social media life?

  1. I agree with you that parents have an obligation that parents are involved in the social media lives of their children. It is great that you and your mom have a good relationship and can have these important conversations. How many parents/children do not have that relationship or do not even know they should have this kind of conversation. “Digital” is a new dimension of parenting. Some embrace it, but many do not.

    This is a well-written, thoughtful post!

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  2. I find most of the things you discuss in your blog to be true. Schools can play a big role in making parents and adults talk about teens’ social media use. Coming from personal experience, I know I would definitely get in trouble with my parents if a relative I was friends with online let them know something inappropriate or personally revealing I posted on my profile. Teens these days are not aware of who really has access to their accounts and put themselves at risk of being taken advantage of by strangers. So many children get in trouble or in harms way putting their information, inappropriate pictures or posts on their profiles and have no sense of restraint or consciousness to keep them from doing so. Adults need to know what their children are up to on social sites like the ones of today, because once total freedom is given to a teen online, there’s no telling what they’ll do.

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  3. I agree that parents have an ethical obligation to be involved in their child’s social media life, especially if the child is young. I also am “friends” with my parents on social media sites, like Facebook, and I like how they are able to see what I am doing at college, and they like feeling part of my experience (even if it’s only through Facebook). I think that websites and other media can be really dangerous for young children, especially if they don’t quite understand the privacy risks they are taking. This summer, my mom found this website that talked about dangerous apps and websites that many children and teens use today. I forget the exact details, but one of the apps on the list involved users talking to a cartoon cat on their phones or iPods, but it turned out that a person was behind the “cartoon cat” and was asking children inappropriate and personal questions through the app. Immediately, my mom asked my younger siblings if they ever used the app (which they hadn’t), but after seeing the list, my mom definitely became more involved in my siblings’ use of technology.

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