I was in an adolescent well exam the other day and routinely asked the teenage boy what social media accounts he had. Before the boy could answer, his dad angrily replied, “What does that have to do with anything? I trust my boy, I don’t need to follow everything he is doing.” Interestingly, in the one-on-one confidential portion of the visit, the adolescent admitted to all sorts of concerning activities. My questioning gave me opportunity to do a lot of counseling with that teen.
I have thought a lot about that encounter since. That dad was doing what he thought was best for his boy. There is value in the idea of ‘teach good principles, then trust them to make good decisions,’ but only to a point. I assert (now this is Wonnacott Wisdom—not science) that in many ways teens need more vigilant parents than young children. The stakes are higher. Parents, know what social media your teen is involved in. Be a follower. In the last 6 months, I have had a mom find out that her daughter was doing drugs from what was posted on social media. Another mom found out that her son was suicidal. These moms were watching. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and rules. It sends the message, ‘Because I love you, I care about what you are involved in and doing.’
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