Mama, don’t let your kids grow up on Facebook …

There’s been a lot of media attention on the subject of cyber bullying and sexting. And some great resources like Cybersmart have been developed to help families and young people manage their presence online.

What I want to blog about today, is the pain of being a teenager in the Facebook generation.

I am so grateful Facebook wasn’t around when I was in my teens.

I was a diary-keeping gal. And a photo-taking gal. I have hundreds of photos of my girlfriends and I, in very bad acid wash jeans, perms and knitted jumpers. Wearing braces, sporting spots, holding up Midnight Oil tickets, reading Dolly magazine, drinking cask wine, and all the things you generally want to forget now …

If Facebook had been around, I would have undoubtedly been growing up online, sharing every painful experience and gauche thought, stumbling through relationships and avowing to the world that I wanted to dedicate myself to saving the seals.

Instead, I’m 40 years old and have reluctantly accepted the friend requests of a few teenagers. And their status updates make me squirm. It’s natural for teenagers to struggle along through puberty, to feel hyper sensitive at times, or like they can’t do anything right. But somebody needs to guide them and advise them: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE IT ALL ON FACEBOOK.

Let’s put together a 101 for teens. A 101 that will save them pain later on. Just as we do with career advice, or relationship advice. My top 3?

1.Less is more. Don’t give us a blow by blow – the highlights will do. Don’t post every photo, just the best one.
2.It CAN happen if it doesn’t happen on Facebook. Make sure you enjoy your time in the real world. Don’t get hung up on recording everything for your Facebook friends. Keep some things to yourself – it makes it more special. And you’ll look cooler. Not desperate.
3.Think of your Page in 10 years time. This is a digital record of your life that your future husband/wife/children/employers might read. Don’t argue with people online. Don’t wail at the world when your boyfriend dumps you. What seems like a disaster today will only be a blip in a few months time. Take a breath before you post. Write it down somewhere else if that makes you feel better.

What do you think? What would you say to the Teenage You?

3 thoughts on “Mama, don’t let your kids grow up on Facebook …

  1. All I can say is hell I'm glad all this anti-social networking stuff and phone cameras etc wasn't around when I was fumbling through life and relationships in my teens and early 20's…Nobody has any hard-proof that us oldies weren't always Awesome at Existence, just hazy hard-liquor fist-biting memories mostly well repressed.

  2. Great post, I totally agree, we need to be very careful about how we project ourselves on Facebook, unfortunately as a teenager I would have still been trying to form my identity and not everything would have been a positive!

  3. I, too am grateful that facebook was not around to witness my mis spent youth, but in many ways I am glad that teens have facebook now. Yes, the teens I know on facebook are often melodramatic, but at least the people in their lives who care about them have some clue as to what is going on in their often hidden lives. I have seen the teens who I love howl at the world, but get supported and counselled by friends showing remarkable maturity and empathy. I have seen bitchy comments censored by the peer group – no need for adults to get involved. Facebook allows teens to think before they talk, and show support for each other in a way we never had when we were kids.

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