1. The ‘talk’
Every teenager must endure “the talk” before they are allowed access to the internet: a flow of warnings and cautions, making sure you know that “you mustn’t ‘friend’ anyone you don’t know” or “post anything you might regret later in life”. Parents tell you what you already know, but neglect to warn you about really bad stuff, such as the brutal body-shaming, or the pornography they are too embarrassed to mention.
No phones at the table, they say. So while parents answer emails, check the weather, or get a quick football update on their phones, teenagers must eat in awkward silence. Or they say, “Just imagine how good your French would be if you spent as much time on it as you do on Instagram.” It is a good point, yet when they do grant us access to the internet for long enough to retrieve an interesting fact, it is automatically written off as false because it was found on the internet. “Did you know an ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain?” we say. “Nonsense! Did you find that on Facebook?” they sneer (while entering some fresh query of their own into Google).
Their bio states: “Mother to two lovely daughters; both keen musicians, sportswomen and academics,” and their most recent post is, “Having a lovely time playing Scrabble with the family.” What they neglect to mention is that daughter No 1 hasn’t played her flute in months, daughter No 2 has just flunked her exams, and that game of Scrabble descended into a dispute over modern slang and now both daughters are sulking in their rooms. Parents use social media to conjure a fake family life, which is weird – and embarrassing. (Parents who post their children’s exam results on social media, with the caption “So proud of my wonderful son/daughter and his/her amazing grades” deserve a special mention. DON’T DO IT.)
Peering over our shoulders when we’re on social media is a breach of privacy. If you want to know what we are doing, just ask. When you look without asking, it feels as if you don’t trust us.
Parents, please help, don’t do this