Social Networking Sites - New Parental Tools?

September 10, 2009
Jill taylor

Verizon has a new commercial out that shows a couple of kids upset with their parents’ online shenanigans via Facebook and Twitter, and while it is funny to think about, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the situation is not as far from reality – or as benign – as you might think. In the article, several parents are interviewed about their use of online networking sites to keep tabs on their kids.

Verizon has a new commercial out that shows a couple of kids upset with their parents’ online shenanigans via Facebook and Twitter, and while it is funny to think about, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the situation is not as far from reality — or as benign – as you might think. In the article, several parents are interviewed about their use of online networking sites to keep tabs on their kids.

I have to admit, I’ve thought about that myself and have gone as far as researching the minimum age for a Facebook account (by the way, if you want to know, the answer is 13 years). Girls especially seem vulnerable to covert bullying practices, and I have become aware of some pretty stiff peer pressure within the realm of my daughter’s ever widening social circle. Who wouldn’t want to know if something inappropriate was going on?

The downside is that you can embarrass your children, and end up looking less like the concerned parent and more like the internet police. And someday, one of them may turn around and reap a book deal some day by Tweeting your thoughts and life philosophy (http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays) (Warning: the retired M.D. from Kentucky apparently does not filter the information that travels from thought to mouth, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea).

I don’t mean to make light of an issue that can cause real familial clashes, but it was just so bound to happen…

Speaking of bullying, recently reported research out of Finland points to potential gender differences with respect to psychiatric risk for victims of bullying. While only boys who showed psychiatric issues at the time of bullying had increased risk of later psychiatric conditions, girls who were bullied had increased risk of later psychiatric conditions regardless of emotional or behavioral history. This isn’t news to a lot of people, but it underscores the idea that intervention may be an important consideration for all girls who have experienced bullying.