Monday, May 31, 2010

Facebook & Your Kids -- Trust Me, Read This

A few days ago a friend told me via e-mail to check the facebook photos of one of our children for one that I may not approve of. Indeed, while not severe, it was something I didn't like the look of, and I removed it. I appreciated the heads up from the fellow parent.

I cut the photo immediately because I have my children's facebook account passwords. If having their passwords doesn't sit will with you, please stick with me. More on that later.The other day I saw a post from one of our teen daughter's 'friends' on facebook that caused suspicion toward that friend. I checked out their profile and indeed was disturbed by much of what I found. (They are now blocked).

This morning I took a little more time on one of our girls' accounts. And I peaked at the friend list of a few of your kids, too (if you are of the FB Concord family) because my kids, your kids and all their friends are linked by culture and the faith we profess.

I was very disturbed by what I found.

Parents, here's the deal: Our kids 'don't want to hurt anyone's feelings' and they accept almost anyone as a 'friend.' (Either that, or some of them want some inappropriate friends. Since their human, it could be a mix of both. Mine not excluded).

What I saw today on a few of our girls' 'friends' pages and on a lot of other pages related to your kids was a bunch of nasty stuff. Foul language. Sexual language. Vast sexual innuendo, and some not-so-innuendo.

I would ask my daughters, 'Who is so-and-so' when I would find something I didn't like. Frequently the answer was, 'Oh, that's one of (John Q. Smith)'s best friends and they friend-requested me.' 'John Q. Smith' would be the name of a teenager at church who is well respected, but had a handful (sometimes more) of friends who should not be. That's how the slippery slope of bad stuff was getting in.

Here's my point: Parents should be reading this stuff! Monitor the activity. It will tell you a lot about your teen and their 'friends.' Now, indeed, many-to-most of those 'friends' on facebook may not people they know very well (which should cause a discussion about who and why to 'friend' someone), but do you want to expose them -- or allow them to expose themselves -- to the sinful, wasteland ramblings of people? And before you get the 'I'm trying to reach out to them' answer from your kids, let me simply say: really? REALLY? Do you believe that?

I mean, it's not impossible.
Or likely.

Here's an accurate summary of what I found looking at the profile of many kids I didn't recognize who were friends with mine or your children: a teen would, in his or her profile, mark their religion as 'Christian,' then I could find NOTHING or very close to nothing, on their info or wall that supported that designation. In fact it frequently supported the opposite.

When your child says to you, 'Oh, they are really not like that,' what do you say back? I say, 'You are what you say, and here's what they said,' and I quote their wall.

Hey, mine aren't perfect, and yours aren't perfect. And I'm not perfect. That would Jesus, whom we love and strive to be like. Many of our kids and your kids are striving for perfection,  looking to Jesus, battling the cultural influences -- and they need help. They need to know they can 'ignore' a friend request and even block someone. They may need you to do it for them.

At the very least, you and I need to be reading this stuff. Oh, and about having the password. Here's our privacy guidelines at home: you have privacy when using the bathroom and changing clothes. Beyond that, if we have reason to be suspicious, we inspect. That doesn't mean we are reading diaries daily and poking around all the time. We are thankful to have kids who aren't creating suspicion by the hour. Most of yours aren't, either. But it would still be blatantly stupid to give them carte blanche.

If a parent senses that they should inspect (any aspect of the child's behavior), they should.

More of us need to.


  1. I agree with your comments. I am a Youth Pastor with 13 years experience and I have 4 young daughters. I am dreading when they become old enough to do these social media things. I WILL be monitoring their stuff. Not only am I protecting my daughters but it could be good ministry opportunities as well that I can be encouraging my daughters with. Thanks for your rant!

    Tom -

  2. Victor, I agree wholeheartedly. I have such strong restictions on internet that it is not really useful too much to my kids. I even have a method to block not just content, but the very posts due to language, content, and more on youtube, in addition to the fact they cannot be on these sites without permission and me there. I can share that information to parents in class if you like. Ours do not have, however, facebook or social sites. All messages and content to them are filtered through our acct. first. Overbearing? Perhaps. Safer? You bet. Even with all this, I cannot protect them enough.

    John W.

  3. I do those very things with my kids...which has resulted in one losing her account and the other simply not being allowed on the computer at home. I am floored at how many parents see it as invading...while under my roof, your business is my business, I've made that very clear with my kids on everything. For the meantime, my kids don't go one the computer at home, they don't do the iPod thing nor cell phones, at this point, it's not needed. They can get those things on their own when they have jobs...but my rule will remain for them and thier friends, when you come in the house, your cell phone goes away....or I take it!!

  4. Texting is just as bad if not worse than facebook. We have restricted our children's phones so much that they can only call and text our family.
    It is sad that some of our teens think they have to behave this way in order to be part of the incrowd - even with people they attend church with. It needs to be addressed by Stan and Wes with parents and students.
    The behavior after youth events needs to be monitored better by the staff and volunteers too.