What Should Parents Do When Children Demand Social Media Privacy?

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Social media privacy is something that is seldom discussed among friends and loved ones. When a platform is specifically devised to put ones life out there, where does privacy begin or end? Also, when we ponder over these complex questions surrounding our social media existence it seldom comes to our mind that young people and children need to be included in this conversation too.

I recently read a tweet from a mom who was blocked by her thirteen-year-old on a prominent social networking platform and I thought it was hilarious, but the next instant it crossed my mind that I was going to be in her place in the coming few years. What if my daughter never accepts my friend request on a networking website? What if she blocks me, or threatens to report me if I continue to share embarrassing childhood photographs of hers, and tag her in them? This apocalyptic situation might not be as far fetched as it might sound to many moms right now.

The tussle for social media privacy is already on in our house. As a rule, I do not share any images or videos of my child on any networking website. However, I do sneak in a few pictures in which her identity remains protected, or snappy replies that she is increasingly doling out these days. On one occasion she demanded that I shouldn’t share a specific video of hers, even with her grandparents. I was stumped because we haven’t had this sort of situation on our hands before.

But now, the young one needs to know what is being sent to her grandparents regularly. She even sneaks a peek into my phone when I am putting up stories on Instagram, especially the ones involving her in any way. How does she know when I am about to share something about her? I have no clue. But I guess kids these days come out of the womb enabled with a tech-sense.

Parents of my generation know how integral social media is to our existence, as a result, want to be a part of that aspect of our kid’s life as well. We want to know which songs they listen to, the actors they like, the trends they follow, how they chat with their friends and above all, are they safe in the digital space or not. The urge to follow children on social media often stems from our sense of protectiveness. It is one of the many ways in which we keep a track of their lives. But what if your children want to block you out?

Above a certain age, I don’t think parents should force their way into the digital lives of their children – something many Indian parents, who grew up with zero privacy themselves, might find hard to digest. But perhaps we can try to ensure that we do not turn engagement on social media into a policing exercise. Why are you friends with this person? Why didn’t you wish Happy Birthday to your uncle? What does this comment on your classmate’s photo mean? These questions are begging for a block from kids.

Perhaps the best way forward is to be present in their social media lives in an observational capacity and raise an alarm if we feel their security or well-being could be at risk. Like in life we have to let our children navigate the hostile world of social media on their terms. All we can do is arm them with as much information as possible and assure them that we will always be available for support and advice if they ever want it.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Views expressed are the author’s own.