Confession: Why I “Stalk” My Kids On Facebook

By Anonymous Dad of Two Middle-Schoolers, Internet Marketing Professional

For the past 15-20 years we have seen the migration from analog to digital. Starting with the Internet explosion of the ’90s and bursting through the new millennium into Web 2.0 (aka: Social Media). I know this first hand, because I am an Internet Marketing Professional and have focused on web development and social media over the past decade. In the ’90s and early 00’s my kids were pups to be protected at all costs. You couldn’t even look at my kids without my wife’s cynical parental eye analyzing and scrutinizing the perp.

We were like other parents with the parental instincts of keeping our guard up – even with creepy uncles and cousins (and we all have those in our families). It wasn’t beyond us to flat out lie, if asked, “Can I hold him/her?” with a rebuttal, “Ohhhh, she’s getting over a bad cold” or “He is so crabby and we just got him to stop crying on the ride over.”

As they grew up, we watched them at the playground making sure that “strangers” who came within the inner circle (aka: within 50 feet), were not going to get any closer, and if they did, we meandered over to our kid and made our presence known.

Fast-Forward to 2013 – kids with Smartphones, laptops (or access to them via older siblings or parents). Kids with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Gmail, AIM, FaceTime, Oovoo, have busted through the bubble we created and are now “out there” exposed to the world – literally.

For the last few months, the running joke (that isn’t really funny to me) is getting called a “Stalker” if I dare to even comment on my kids’ social media activity.

Even a simple “Facebook like” gets the “DAD!!! Really? Why are you stalking me?”

STALKING YOU … Dear, I am doing the opposite of stalking, I am keeping an eye on you, so the REAL stalkers out there don’t get inside the inner circle. There is a reason why there are TV shows that are set up as “sting operations” to catch predators who use the social media to get to our precious children.

We walk the fine line of watching, not commenting … Monitoring, but not getting involved. It harkens back to the days where my mother would pretend not to listen to my phone conversations while cooking dinner, but she heard and absorbed every single word while she hummed and cooked a nice brisket.

In spite of the kids’ disapproval or our “stalking, ” our kids have a few rules in our house while my wife and I still have any shred of authority.

1) If you are on any social network, you need to “friend” us both, and keep us active – if you block us on Instagram or Facebook, you lose your phone.

2) Language and behavior is to be kept as clean. Cursing is not allowed and acronyms like WTF or LMFAO are discouraged.

3) Provocative or sexual innuendos are absolutely forbidden (duckface, pouty lips, peace signs, tongues out are permitted as long as it doesn’t cross into the obscene).

4) Bullying is forbidden.

5) All associates in the social media are constantly up for review (i.e. – Who is “@SexyShug69”? If it’s someone we know, we just furrow our brows and shake our heads – if it’s someone we don’t know – they are GONE, Defriended, Blocked — TERMINATED).

6) If a friend is using inappropriate behavior, we call it out, talk about it with our kids and remind them that they are not to act that way, or they lose their privileges.

If, by definition, my interaction or monitoring is considered “Stalking” by this generation, fine, I am a stalker.

One only needs to watch the TV show “Catfish” to see that the internet and social media come with its fair share of sick people, pretending to be someone or something they are not.

As parents, our right — our RESPONSIBILITY  — is to keep those predators at bay.

Until Mark Zuckerberg innovates the ‘stink eye’ icon for parents to use in place of our disappointed or disapproving look, we will continue to stalk, watch and even comment if need be.

When the next social network pops up, we’re going to be right there signing up as well. Heck, I think that Instagram was the 13 and under crowd’s answer to the Facebook 13+ policy. Some of the jokes I see on Instagram are very funny – I literally laugh out loud to Chuck Norris or Will Farrell posts, but they are not always for the under-18 crowd.

If you are a parent who let’s your kids see R-rated movies, or watch “Family Guy” or “South Park” – then this article is going to probably sound a little over-protective. For others, it will be a big “DUH, you’re not saying anything that isn’t common sense.” This blog is for the parent who is trying to be their kids’ friend, who might be on the bubble about internet and social media house rules.

Dear Kids,

As I always say (stealing this one from Michael Stipe) “Labels are for canned food” – so if you need to label us stalkers at least have the decency to know the definition of “stalk” – (Thank you, Merriam-Webster.)

transitive verb
1: to pursue by stalking
2: to go through (an area) in search of prey or quarry
3: to pursue obsessively and to the point of harassment
— stalk·er noun

Pursue obsessively? … To the point of harassment? Hmm, maybe you Gen Y’s out there just have a problem expressing yourselves. All that thumb typing and surfing has dulled your senses. We aren’t stalking YOU — we are stalking YOUR STALKERS!!

Mom & Dad

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