1. Getting Facebook wrong
a) Using your child’s Facebook wall as a method of communication is wrong, wrong, wrong. If you put: “Hi, you seemed upset this morning. I hope you’re feeling better. Love you lots, Mummy” on your child’s FB wall, all their friends will see it. It’s probably the single most embarrassing thing that can happen to a teenager and we feel terrible having to explain that to you when the message itself is so nice. So please, just text!
b) Posting family pictures that include your teenagers is another no-no. Yes, we had a great time at the theme park, and yes, the photo of the whole family on the log flume was hilarious, but don’t post it. When teenagers try to explain to their parents why they are embarrassed by the family photo, we are often met with a confused response: “But you post selfies all the time.” What parents don’t understand is that any photo a teenager posts will have been through a ruthless screening process. Don’t be fooled by the self-deprecating caption stating: “OMG I look so awful #IHateMondays.”
c) Liking your child’s friends’ photos. A Facebook “like” doesn’t just mean you like something. It is a way of saying you are interested in reading about what the person is doing. So if you “like” one of our friend’s FB pictures, you will be considered “stalkerish”. The friend will come to school the next day and say, “Hey, your Mum liked one of my Facebook pictures,” as though it’s the craziest thing anyone could think of doing.
2. Getting Twitter wrong
The hashtag allows you to categorize a post by its keyword, thus allowing an individual to find your post. So when a parent tweets “#OnHoliday with my #family and drinking #DietCoke, the #weather is #Great” it is hilarious – unless it’s your parent writing, when it becomes incredibly embarrassing.
3. Getting WhatsApp wrong
WhatsApp allows you to write a brief status that appears when someone looks up your contact. It is not a place for “profound” observations, or witty quotes from films, and most teenagers won’t deviate from the default “Hey there, I’m using WhatsApp”. Anyone who has your number saved on his or her phone is able to view your status. If you write, “I’m not like a regular Mum, I’m a cool Mum”, all my friends who have ever needed to put your number on their phone will see it. This is embarrassing.
4. Getting Instagram wrong
Captioning an Instagram is hard. There is a thin line between pretentious and interesting. Every teenager spends quality time deliberating over what to write under a picture, but not parents. So far I have seen: a picture of a daffodil in a vase with Wordsworth’s entire poem underneath it; a standard tourist shot of the Eiffel Tower with the caption “Just so majestic”; and a picture of the Greek flag with the caption, “What do you think about Grexit?” (PS Instagram is the wrong forum for academic/political discussion).
I wish there will be a platform to teach parents how to use social media. A parent’s mistake is a child’s embarrassment. Parents, please go to your children to teach you about social media. When it comes to new technologies and applications, children are the teachers. Learn from us.