BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Being a responsible parent today means tracking your kids on social media, but knowing where and how to find them online is a challenge that changes sometimes by the week.
A new Pew research study just out this week illustrates the problem for parents if you think tracking your child on Facebook is really showing you what’s going on: 44% of Facebook users between the ages of 18-49 claim they’ve deleted the app from their phone in the last year.
“The younger consumers, while they might have the largest number of accounts, they’re not as active on these accounts and the older users are really gravitating towards these--I mean my 85 year old grandmother has a Facebook account,” warns Dr. Alex Abney, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at UAB.
That leaves teens asking “if grandma is on here, why am I?”
“I don’t want my grandma, and my mom’s neighbor at home, and my youth pastor to see everything that I’m posting,” Dr. Abney says. “So I might go on Instagram or Snapchat and it’s more of my peers and I might post rap lyrics or something like that that I wouldn’t necessarily want an older person to see.”
And your kids are smart marketers, they know how to tailor their message to the social media platform. For many, Facebook is now the place to promote only good news.
″If they get straight A’s or they’re graduating or something they wanna promote, they still only post small things on Facebook so I think that’s where they’re getting their parents," Dr. Abney warns.
New studies show most teens are spending a lot more time on Instagram and Snapchat, but simply forcing them to let you follow them on those accounts doesn’t give you all the access you may need.
“You can only see their Snapchat information if they share it with you or their stories,” Dr. Abney says. “So they could be sharing information with their friends and you really have no idea.”
The solution? Something no app can buy--trust and transparency between parents and kids. You have to trust them to be honest with you and keep an ongoing dialogue with them to make sure that happens, and they need to trust that you may be able to help them decide what’s good to post and what may come back to bite them when they apply for their first job.
“There has to be some kind of agreement between a parent and a student that this is still a public platform,” Dr. Abney advises. “We see all these horror stories where someone will post something and then 5 years later something the posted on Twitter they didn’t think anyone could see comes back to haunt them.”
If you’d like to help your teen understand what their public social media profile might look like to an HR or hiring manager one day, we’ve found a cool tool that lets you search their profiles together to see which posts pop to the top and are most likely to turn up in a future background check.