Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Parental Controls in Reverse: Relevant Social Media Parenting

It's teen time!

So a few weeks ago I did it. Yielding to the Gen X group think that you just can't seem to shake, I thought "I guess it's time I joined Facebook." Look! How nifty, people I haven't heard or seen in twenty years. Who needs high school reunions?

If there is a teen in the vicinity they have just curled their lip in derision and called me all kinds of names in text format that I have no way of deciphering. It can all be summed up succinctly as "hey spying old person, get your own social platform." It reminds me of a story my parents told me about when they moved to their rural community in the early 70s and the local kids scrawled in the dirt "go home city slickers!" And you remember "never trust anyone over thirty?" Every generation has had it. Same message, just higher tech.

One of the fastest growing social media demographics is my beloved Generation X. We sort of have a techie clue, but not quite, plus we've been working our little tushes off, and now have taken a moment to stop and savor the virtual roses. Throw virtual drinks at one another? Sign us up. 

Social Media for the"old" set is exploding. Facebook reports that "the number of users age 35-54 more than tripled in the 12 months ending in July, according to the site's survey of 3,100 users. The 13-34 age group doubled, and the number of users age 65 and up grew 150 percent."

But this poses a little problem for some of us. Some of our kids are of age, and they don't like our incursion into their little social clique at all, not one little bit! It seems that parenting is hard enough, but add in the wrinkles that social media and technology brings into the mix and parents feel a bit outgunned. I remember a parenting adage that says keep your friends close and your kids friends closer, to know what is "really" going on. That means heading into the social media foray to some degree, and navigate the new frontier of connected parenting. They may not like it, but clearly they still need you, given the kinds of information the average teen posts on their Myspace and Facebook pages. There are even those that suggest that one can improve their family life through Twitter

So go ahead and dip your toes, and while you are at it reconnect with your elementary school nemesis, because, you know bygones can be bygones, right?

Here are some other stories of things "parents just don't understand":
  • You think your credit/lending terms are tough these days? For the teen set, the funds have all but dried up, so they have had to get creative on the cheap.
  • Get up to date on the lingo. A date is not a date anymore.
  • Best thing I ever did was change schools right before high school. It changed me and my path. But, many kids have a tough time breaking away from negative peer groups because they are still the people that they are most familiar with. An interesting take on the issue.
  • Recently there was a report of a study that concluded that virginity pledges did not positively affect the rates of sexual activity and attendant issues, and the media jumped on it. This commentator begs to differ and argues their side.
  • A spot of good news: smoking rates are down!
Remember one of the upsides of a teen. They can help you pimp your Facebook profile, provided you promise not to "friend" their friends.

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