I recently received an email from a teen that I speak with that piqued my interest. I thought I’d share it with you:
My friend (17 yo girl) isn’t allowed on Facebook because she has helicopter parents. She has one anyway under a pseudonym. She is also battling depression and has been going through many therapists. When I saw her a few days ago, she excitedly told me about how great her new therapist was. Her therapist lets her go on Facebook during the sessions. While she uses Facebook, the therapist watches her use the site. They have discussions around her photos and her friend’s status updates. Apparently this is how the majority of her therapy sessions begin. This friend is prone to exaggeration, but the way she told the story passed my personal bullshit filter.
I regularly hear parents talk about how they want to keep their kids off of Facebook for any number of reasons. It kills me to hear this because they don’t understand that their pushing their kids to choose between social status and parental obedience. I don’t know whether or not this story is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve watched too many teens be pushed into a corner by over-protective parents who think that they’re doing the right thing for their kids. But there’s nothing like social ostracization to increase depression. And I’ve heard too many stories from teens’ therapists about how parents are often a huge part of the problem.
If you’re a parent, please think twice before you get all control-freak on your teen kids. They need space to engage with friends in a healthy manner. And regardless of how you grew up, that means the Internet today. Exclusion isn’t a solution.