Do parents spy on their teenagers on Facebook? Of course: in 2013, a lot of parents have been active on Facebook for years.
BuzzFeed spoke with a San Francisco area mother — on condition of full anonymity — who confesses to reading through her daughter’s posts, and even private messages, when her daughter forgets to log out in between sessions.
The following is an edited transcript of BuzzFeed’s interview.
I read all my kid’s Facebook stuff. Don’t tell my daughter; she would be pissed and be careful to log out, and I wouldn’t be able to see it anymore.
I don’t log in as her. I actually don’t know her password.
The rules are that I have to be friends with her and I have to be able to see what she posts. No overly suggestive photos. Don’t say mean things about another person, including a teacher. Don’t use curse words. No dirty photos. Keep it clean. We know employers look at it. I want her to respect the power of Facebook and what it can do.
She has about 600 friends on Facebook. In some ways it makes her safer. There is a critical mass of people that know her in the city. There is no room for her to make a mistake without 600 people knowing about it.
I see “LOL” “What is ur number?” “What are you doing? “I need to get my jacket back.” “Sarah has it.” They can’t carry on a conversation. It is worse than text conversations. It’s mostly pretty tame — and lame.
I did read my daughter’s friend saying “I was talking with so and so,” and then my daughter wrote back, “Was it a sexual thing?” And I was cringing. My daughter just wrote “sexual” somewhere in the world. She has had a boyfriend for almost a year though.
I do read messages from her friends, but mostly I just see [evidence] that they have had a Facetime. I have caught her using it in the middle of the night — waking up at 1 a.m. for a secret Facetime. But I used to do that too, with a phone call.
[When I was a teenager] my mom read in my diary that I was doing drugs. I was like, “What the hell! You read other people’s diaries?” I was just not hearing that [doing drugs] was that big of a deal in comparison to being a snoop.
If I found something that troubled me it would tough. It depends on how troubling it is. I would try to draw it out of her in another way. But if it were really bad, I would tell her straight up to her face, “Hey, you left it open. You don’t get to have that level of privacy until you are 18.”
There hasn’t been any “mean girl” talk on Facebook. I think my daughter knows that if she posted that publicly I would be on her and insist she remove it. I don’t agree with publicly bashing anyone.
There is “mean girl” stuff that happens at school. Some of the things she says about other girls — I don’t like it. She is prone to not being that nice sometimes. It is not just some of the kids. They all take turns at being the asshole. They have no filter.
She has about 2,000 self-portraits. She and her friends do regular fashion shoots on Instagram. I was a goth girl who would never do that. If someone pointed a camera at me I would smash it. She is my antithesis. She is a Top 40 fashion type girl. One of the popular girls. It is so sad.
I let her get a Facebook account on her 13th birthday. I didn’t want her to start in sixth or seventh grade. That would be a permanent admission that she had lied [since Facebook doesn’t allow under-13s]. I didn’t want that anywhere on the internet. Your kid already has so much social contact that is beyond the parents. I was trying to stem that tide.
A lot [of her friends] were on it earlier. Their parents knew and didn’t care. But this is also San Francisco. They don’t think their kids smoking pot is a problem. There is a lot of not really permissible, but over-flexible, parenting going on here. A lot of her friends also made fake Facebook accounts that their friends recognize but their parents would not. But a lot of kids got busted. There were some families who agonized about the Facebook decision. My thing: I wish people didn’t think Facebook was so cool.
Oddly, I know parents who post on their kid’s timelines. The kids are friends with their grandparents and parents’ friends. My daughter would feel like that is weird and embarrassing. I am her only adult friend on Facebook. She wants it private. I agree with that. She is a teenage girl in full effect and adults cramp her style.
I saw one great post from a mom: “M—- is taking a break from Facebook for the next few months. If you want to know why, email him privately and he can tell you.” I guess M—- really fucked up. That was pretty awesome. The mom grabbed the mic and put it on full blast that M—- was in trouble.