Jennifer Romolini, the editor-in-chief of Yahoo’s Shine, came across what she describes as “the best Facebook update we’ve ever seen.” It was written by a father who hacked into his 15-year-old son’s Facebook account to let his son’s friends know his son isn’t the little thug he claims to be. It reads:
To all of Chris’ friends: This is his father. My son carelessly left his account logged in so I decided to snoop around. Upon reading my son’s personal information, I would like to clear a few things up. My son is not a “gangsta,” he will not “beat a ho’s ass” and he will most certainly not “roll a fatty wit his boyz.” So for all of those who think he is some hard ass thug, think again…he is Chris [redacted], a 15 year old kid that was afraid of the dark untill he was 12 and cried at the end of Marley and Me.
Romolini writes, “exposing a teenager’s obvious personality contrivances and affectations, the ‘face’ they’re putting on to hide deeper problems and insecurities, may feel satisfying in the moment, but it doesn’t really seem like the way to help a kid.” Uh, yeah. You could say that. While some may herald this hacking as a great parenting moment, I think it’s one of the worst things a person could do to a teenager. Facebook is essentially the diary of the 21st century, so just as parents past couldn’t help themselves when they came across an open journal, I don’t blame this Dad for looking through his son’s profile. But I think hijacking one of his status updates is about as immature and ill-informed a response possible to realizing your son – who just a few years ago cried at Marley and Me – is now trying to be a “gangsta.” How about talking to the kid about the choices he’s making – or pretending to make? How about already knowing what’s going on in your son’s life by seeking regular access to his online accounts? Try a little transparency, Dad.
Look, I’m not the parent of a teenager, so maybe I’m being naive here. I remember wanting privacy when I was a teen, but I also know that’s because I didn’t have an open relationship with my parents, and so our lack of communication seemed too far gone for me to be able to explain myself. I can clearly remember having several tantrums as a teen during which I’d shout at my mother, “I’m not gonna be like this with my kids!” And I hope I won’t. I hope that when my daughter is 15, I know what kind of persona she’s presenting to her friends and peers because she doesn’t feel like she needs to hide it from me.
What do you think? Is it unreasonable to expect to know what’s going on in your teenager’s “private” life? Did this Dad handle these discoveries about his son well?