My mom always tells me she doesn’t envy me, having to raise kids in the Internet era. After all, all she had to worry about me doing as an adolescent was sending gushing fan letters to Ricky Schroder and putting a love letter in the locker of my middle school crush (and he, in turn, crushed me by laughingly reading it to ALL OF HIS FRIENDS, OH MY GOD). And with my older siblings, well, back in their day I’m pretty sure their only modes of communication were smoke signals and letters by horse courier.
The Internet is a double-edged sword for us parents, for sure. On one hand, where else can we find important information like “homemade butt paste recipes” within two seconds and post pictures of our baby eating the cat’s tail with the caption, “I think he’s hungry, LOL!” for all our family and friends to see? I mean, how on earth did my mom raise three kids without being able to do that?
Then, on the other hand, I hear stories like this and do not look forward to my kids having access to the ol’ World Wide Web (of Trouble) any time soon…
In yet another incident of adolescents using social media for no good (shocking, I know), a silly 12-year-old girl posted a photo of herself on Instagram holding an unopened bottle of vodka with a caption that read “I sure wish I could drink this.” (Coincidentally, I posted a similar picture of myself when I was pregnant.) What the girl failed to realize, apparently, was that pretty much everyone in the world could see her picture, including HER MOTHER, a prominent Houston-area author who in turn punished her daughter by having her post a new picture of herself holding a sign declaring, “Since I want to post photos of me holding liquor, I am obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus until I learn what I should & should not post. Bye-bye.”
I think it’s the sad face really drives the message home. (Both on the sign and on the girl’s face.)
ReShonda Tate Billingsley said, that in the past, she had warned her daughter, who does not have her own Facebook account, to be careful about what she posted to the photo-sharing site and was surprised to see the vodka photo.
“I thought she knew better, but in her mind, she thought, ‘I’m not drinking, what’s the problem?’” Billingsley said. What the girl didn’t realize, she said, was that the photo might still send the wrong message to a future employer or prove attractive to a predator, who “can see it and think this is a little girl who likes to drink.”
“Because she had been warned,” she added, “I felt I needed to hit her where it hurt most.”
And hurt it did. After she explained the punishment to her daughter, the girl was “devastated” for a day, Billingsley said.
“She actually asked for a spanking instead; she begged for a spanking,” she said.
But by day two, Billingsley said, her daughter had brushed off the incident. “If she is ever allowed back on social media, she’ll definitely think twice about anything she posts,” she said.
This seems to be the latest trend in discipline — punishment by social media humiliation, which has garnered mixed reactions from experts and parents. I asked Mr. Candy if he would have Skylar pose with such a sign if she did something similar (not that our perfect little angel would ever do that…*ahem*) and he said he wouldn’t, instead opting to take away her access to the Internet for a few weeks or whatever. Personally, I would never say never — three strikes, and I might just do the same (or worse, make her use Google Plus instead) — but I do know this for sure: until this girl has had her candid love letter read to the ENTIRE MIDDLE SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM for their amusement, she does not know what embarrassment is. OH MY GOD.