The Luxury of Being Anti-Social


I don’t have that luxury.

Was my reply to Mom’s announcement she was considering closing her Facebook account. “Of course you do!” was her response.

On the surface, she’s not entirely wrong. I can absolutely close my account. It has not replaced my interactions with my friends and family, although sharing family photos would require some rejiggering on my part. But that wasn’t really what I was referencing.

At the time, my cousin’s teenage daughter was living with my parents. My mom really only used her Facebook account to monitor her activity, but because she wasn’t a regular user my mom did not have the tools to fully understand what my cousin’s daughter was doing. Over time, the Facebook activity became such a bone of contention between the two that my mom eventually banned her from Facebook.

As you may have guessed, this strategy wasn’t exactly successful.

I adore my mom. She’s incredible and I often call her Super Grammy. Although there is an alarming and growing trend of grandparents rearing children, to take on your niece’s teenage daughter is matter for sainthood. On top of that, she’s there 100% for me with my children as well. Vomiting kid? No problem, get your hiney to work and I’ll mop up. You’re sick? Let me bring you some soup. Need a night out? Send the kids over, I can handle it.

On top of that, my mom is incredibly intelligent and tech savvy. She was the one to teach me DOS and introduce me to computers. She’s still the only one at her house that can setup and program their entertainment centers. She was the first to adopt ebooks in our family and the first among us to use online banking and shopping.

So let me make this exceptionally clear. Her problem with Facebook isn’t lack of smarts, caring or knowledge – it is lack of use.

First, without regular usage, Super Grammy was unaware that you could disable posts, pictures and your wall from people you still had friended. She didn’t know that she wasn’t seeing a complete picture and she didn’t know how to limit or control it.

Second, it’s impossible to model good social networking behavior if you don’t use the services. Until you’ve made a few online blunders yourself, it’s difficult to anticipate the specific problems, bullying and arguments that can arise from these platforms.

With the increase in frictionless sharing and interconnectivity it’s imperative that I remain fluent in the digital biosphere.  I’ve made a few of my own blunders and I’m learning how to mentor and model best social networking practices.

Frictionless sharing is the single most irritating part of Facebook and what almost had me quit. As the Maid of Honor in one of my best friend’s weddings, I was using Pinterest to explore all facets of wedding planning. Although I’d disabled the app from posting to my Timeline it managed to sneak back. Multiple inquiries about my upcoming nuptials had me steaming.

A small mishap like that one could really translate into major problems for the novice user. Unfortunately, this technology is changing at a pace that even the most seasoned social networker has trouble staying afloat. I will simply be an ineffective instructor for my children if I don’t keep my account, actively use it and seek out the newest changes each and every time.

My children are still young and they haven’t yet begun with Facebook  but I certainly see it glinting at me over the horizon.

What are your thoughts? How do you manage your children’s online social networking? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

  1. I’d probably just install a keylogger on the comp my kid used. Then I’d know exactly what she was doing.

    No issues with it now, though, since she’s only six lol

    • Anonymous
    • March 14th, 2012

    I remeber when computers used to run on DOS. As a matter of fact, when I went to college there was no Windows

    • Derek
    • March 14th, 2012

    I quit Facebook rather hastily when I joined Google+, but I don’t think it really affected me or any relationships with anyone because I never really used it. I use Google+ much more than I ever did Facebook.

    As far as monitoring my children’s social networking, only two of my kids are young enough to need monitoring, considering the two boys who use social media are 18 and 16. The eldest could care less for all of it and treats it more as a way to make snarky comments about his life, where the younger of the two is a bit more involved. We’ve moved quite alot over his life and a social media connection is the easiest way for him to stay in contact with his friends from our stops along the way. I don’t really monitor his usage, but on occasion I will force him to go through everything (texts, emails, social media) and answer for anything I have a concern about. I think with that looming, he behaves himself for the most part and does only things I would have expected of myself if I’d had these things available in my youth.

  2. i tend to think that it doesn’t take that much for you to be able to monitor your kid on a social network. as in, you don’t need to know every single in and out of fb usage and fb policies in order to use it as a tool to monitor your kid. if you know how to get an account, click on your kid’s profile, then that’s enough of a connection.

    sure, the kid can learn to and implement some privacy settings to block you from stuff, but if the kid gets to that point with Important Things, then that’s an issue whose solution has nothing to do with keeping up with social networking; to me that’s more of a direct communication and level of trust and understanding that you have with your kid and your kid has with you.

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