A Teen Speaks: Should a Mother Use Wall Posts to Defend Her Child From Facebook Bullies?

Are mothers the biggest keyboard warriors? A recent Facebook incident has me thinking that they just might be. There’s no denying that a child’s number one ally is their mother, and in this crazy world we certainly need someone to stand by us through everything, but getting involved in Facebook fights? For me, that’s not just crossing the line; it’s bounding over it and setting up camp on the other side.

Parents have the right to use Facebook. This is an undeniable fact. The worldwide phenomenon is consuming the time of millions of teenagers; why not let it consume the time of their parents too? In fact, it is completely understandable that parents are choosing to join social networking sites such as Facebook. While we may forget it sometimes, parents are people too. They have friends, they want to socialise and they too can benefit from this convenient online network. It’s great that the generation above us are choosing to embrace change and become accustomed to this foreign technology that was not available to them when they were growing up. People of all ages should have access to this social platform and use it to share photos, statuses and wall posts; however, when parents become too involved with their child’s cyber life, things can go from cool to plain weird.

It’s a fine line between trendy parents and overbearing, intrusive ones. Or those who are plain inappropriate. For instant, the parents who feel the need to not only befriend their child online, but comment on their every single photo and status. Or give them a telling off via a wall post. Or fight on their behalf. For me, one of the most annoying things online is a parent who is constantly involved in petty Facebook arguments on behalf of their child. That’s right, some of the biggest keyboard warriors are actually parents sticking up for their children. This is worse than parents and children posting their own arguments online when they should definitely be kept private and within a family unit. It’s much worse than parents calling their children from their rooms or telling them to do their chores via a comment on their Facebook wall.  It’s even worse than when a mother I knew posted “you look lovely in this, darl” on a photo highlighting her fifteen year old daughter’s bulging, hooker-like cleavage in the girl’s first attempt at home bikini modelling, (and yes, that really did happen). Appropriate factor: zero. But that’s not the point.

Parents getting involved in trivial disagreements online, or in some cases even starting them, are doing their children no favours. They are helping no one. I mean seriously, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear of a mother keyboard warrior? Wow, what an intelligent, mature woman trying to help her child? Not likely. In fact, her credibility takes a dramatic drop and whether they know it or not, so does their child’s. I know that most people will say these types of mothers, all mothers even, only have their son’s and daughter’s best interests at heart. But seriously, if you’ve reached your 40’s and are still trying to intimidate your child’s friends while sitting, safe and protected, behind your computer screen, you need to take a good look at yourself. The truth is it’s not accomplishing anything; well, maybe self-humiliation.

The other big problem with parents on Facebook is the naive way in which they believe befriending their child online will fix all problems. The fact of the matter is that a millions statuses or likes or wall posts will not fix real-life problems. Just because parents feel they are on their child’s level if they communicate via social networking websites doesn’t mean that they are. The chasm between parent and child, if present in one’s real life, that is their life away from the net, will not be fixed by a Facebook relationship. Those parents who feel that social networking will fix their problems are kidding themselves. The truth is that if the relationship between parent and child is damaged, online communication, without face-to-face conversation, is not going to be an automatic remedy. That’s not to say I don’t think parents should be friends with their children online. In fact, I am totally for that. It makes it easier to share photos and is a cheaper alternative to SMS messaging if someone isn’t home. But parents need to be parents, not friends. Online conversation via statuses and instant messengers will never replace raw, honest real-life discussions. It’s unrealistic and naive to think that a parent can become friends with their child online and everything will be okay. Relationships take time and effort; sitting in separate rooms of the house hidden behind two separate computer monitors is not this.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that some parents can get online and like their children’s photos and comment on their statuses, but only if their relationship is strong and fully intact before entering cyberspace. We all have enough issues without hearing about everyone else’s arguments, and parents and their children are going to fight; the whole world doesn’t need to know about it. Facebook is good for a lot of things (easy communication, file sharing, entertainment), but it is not good for family arguments. Or even any arguments involving parents. Sometimes we all just need to take a break from the cyber world and return to the real world to sort out our disagreements because Facebook, and this might comes as a surprise to some of you, is not the answer to everything.