Social Media “Stranger Danger” and Parenting our Parents

“Billy, stop putting your hand in the cookie jar! How many times do I have to tell you? And look out for traffic! Don’t talk to strangers! Stop gossiping; that’s not nice. Think before you speak!”

This is what it sounds like to be the parent of a five-year-old. This is also my inner dialogue when I scroll down my Facebook news feed, where many of my friends are actually adults.

I understand that for any adult, the Internet is a huge learning curve. I was lucky enough to be part of the generation that grew up with the Internet. It’s all intuitive to me by this point, but I understand how complicated it can be for those who haven’t been so thoroughly exposed.

What I find funny about the whole Internet thing, especially the whole Facebook thing, is that it seems that many adults forget the basic lessons they teach their children the minute they open their laptops. If you shouldn’t talk to strangers in vans that offer you candy, why would you ever wire money to a gracious Nigerian prince you met through email? Why?

When I look at my Facebook feed, I feel like it’s a complete role reversal. I see grown adults posting passive-aggressive “She is the worst. You know who you are” statuses or posting things that are just plain offensive. They even get into Facebook fights with other adults….so awkward. Remember what your generation told mine about reputation and “think before you speak?” Oh goodness.

I shake my head as I see adults sharing news links that they believe to be true even though they come from websites like “Ihateobamaheishorribleandshoulddie.com” or “globalwarmingisreal.com.” (These seem like pretty biased news sources to me, but hey, to each his own.)

I see them share photos I remember being hot when I was twelve, like “Erry man should look out fo his boo” and “Ladies: a real man never sends mixed signals because a real man always knows what he wants.” I feel like I’m being transported back to my junior high days, when we did all of these things too….when we were in junior high.

Please keep in mind that I don’t mean to generalize this to all adult internet-users. My parents have navigated social media just fine (Yay mom and dad!) and plenty of other adults are more than capable. And I certainly don’t mean this as a criticism, because people can do whatever the heck they want on the internet. It’s just funny as a young adult to watch adults who have their lives together otherwise completely change the minute they’re behind a keyboard.

As the generation below these adults-turned-Facebook-tweens, I now understand when adults claim that their children “never listen to any of their advice.” It appears that some of them don’t even listen to their own advice. Oh, the irony of social media.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media “Stranger Danger” and Parenting our Parents

    • Thank you! I do feel like it’s an “initiation” of sorts that we all have to go through when we first use social media. We have to start out as “Facebook tweens” and work our way up. My generation just got lucky because being an actual tween happened to coincide with this “Facebook tween” phenomenon, whereas adults are exploring it long after their teenage years. It makes for an interesting gap.

      Thanks for reading!

      -Taylor

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