Get a handle on social networks

Parent Connection

August 12, 2011 

When I began writing Parent Connection many years ago, it was my goal to stay organized. There were notes to save, tax deductions to record and monthly invoices to file. I continue to keep an index of all columns (690 to date) right here on my desktop.

I was reviewing my index earlier this week and it struck me how much our world has changed since my column's beginning. I initially hand delivered my columns to the former Gaston Gazette office on Cox Road. After a few months I suggested that I simply email the columns to save me the trip (and someone else from retyping the column). Believe it or not email was still fairly new. Wow. Imagine that.

Email is now considered "old school" and quickly losing the interest of teens and young adults to that of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. I can't wait to see where we are 10 years from now. Perhaps folks will snicker at the memory of smart phones that required a keyboard.

For parents today, let's forget about where we were and where we're headed. Let's talk today. When it comes to your children, 'tweens or teens, where are they in regards to social network sites? Specifically, how much time a day would you guess that your Bradley or Susie spends on these sites? For example, if it occurs to you that you haven't seen 15-year-old Susie come out of her room in three days, you may very well have a problem.

When our girls were growing up in the Greeson household, my wife and I may have dealt with complaints over turning off the TV, video games or what movie they could or couldn't go see with friends. But I'll admit we didn't have to fight over Facebook. Maybe a time or two there was an argument over an inappropriate outfit adorned for the evening out, but we didn't have to gasp at pictures of inappropriate outfits being seen by hundreds on a social network site.

Perhaps it is time for parents to face Facebook. I'm not saying it's bad or wrong, but like anything else, too much time on one thing takes away from other things. It's the "all my eggs in one basket" scenario. Not only do countless hours a week on Facebook take away from other activities, but could it be that this drive for popularity, acceptance and the please-please-please-look-at-me-look-at-me-look-at-me syndrome is quietly becoming a monster?

So, do you just take it all away? For most, I think not. But you as the parent can balance it out by setting limits and giving guidance. And seriously, you may even need to examine the hours you spend on social sites yourself, uh, so you can monitor your kids.

Disagree? Well, you may find that your future college freshman spends more time on Facebook than the books her freshman year. Flunked out Susie will be back home again, bored and arguing with you over things like half nude pics of her on Facebook for all of her friends (and yours) to see. Makes you want to get a handle on it all, don't you think?

Bryan Greeson is a nationally certified School Psychologist and serves as the Director of Special Services in York School District One.

Bryan Greeson is a nationally certified School Psychologist and serves as the Director of Special Services in York School District One.

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