As a teenager, the late night news in Oklahoma City started each broadcast with the line “It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” My parents could open the bedroom door and see all four boys were there. Given the night time opportunities in Midwest City, Oklahoma during the mid-60’s, we were home and usually in bed or finishing up homework. Social media has taken what once was simple and made it much more difficult. Like my mother and father, parents today still can check the physical presence of a child, but the different social media sites have added a new dimension to knowing “where your children are” or where they have been. In my teenage years, we passed a note intended to be seen by one person who knew the author. Those private handwritten messages have been replaced by much less private communications on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. Postings to those or similar sites have the potential of being seen by many more people, both known and unknown to the writer, and carry a much, much greater social cost.
Here is an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal on October 4, 2012 titled “Web Profiles Haunt Students.” I hope you will take a moment to read the article and have a teachable moment discussion with your child. Even though the teenage years are when we feel most bulletproof, my fear for each of our students is the ramifications of a poor choice in photo, word, or comment.
Since you will not find me on Facebook or Twitter, and this will be the only social media site I use, I will tweak the Oklahoma City news intro of the 60’s to be “It’s 10 o’clock, do you know what is on your child’s social media page(s)?”