One night when my son’s friend was at our home, he mentioned something my 18-year-old had put on his Snapchat story. Is it there now? I asked. Hesitantly, his friend answered yes.
I checked my Snapchat and I couldn’t see the post. That’s when I realized my son, Garret, had blocked me from his social media.
I began to stew.
I don’t make embarrassing comments on his posts. I don’t even “like” them. I follow my son on social media to know what he is up to, who he is with and what’s happening in his life. I was furious that he blocked me.
Because I pay for his phone, I was going to demand he unblock me or pay for it himself.
When I mentioned the situation to my daughter, she seemed surprised that I cared so much. I guess her generation is used to people blocking them. She told me I was making WAY too much out of it and reminded me that my mom didn’t follow me on social media when I was a teen.
My daughter suggested I discuss the situation with my son rather than yell at him and make demands.
So, that’s what I did.
I asked Garret why he had blocked me.
“Snapchat is for my friends, “ he said. “It’s where I post things my friends can relate to.”
“What about Instagram?” I asked him. “Did you block me from that too?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “But I am not posting much there anymore.”
I asked Garret what he is posting for friends that he doesn’t want his mother to see. He answered, “The funny kind of stuff all my friends post.”
I told him I was going to ponder the matter.
So, I asked a few friends with teenagers. I learned I wasn’t the only one struggling with this issue. When I asked one friend, she checked and realized she had been blocked from her son’s Snapchat too.
The next weekend, I asked my daughter to show me what my son had posted on his Snapchat because I figured he probably still let her follow him. She hesitated and said she wanted to ask him first if it was okay. (I wasn’t happy with that answer!)
When she asked him, he said, “I don’t know why mom is making a big deal about this.” And then he told me, “Mom, if it’s such a big deal I will unblock you.” I explained to him “I understand you want to your space and a place to hang out with friends, but I care about what’s going on in your life.”
The outcome: I am now unblocked. I barely look at his posts, but I like the feeling that I can look at what he is posting if I want to.
Common Sense Media offers this advice to parents about being their teen’s friend on social media:
“Following your teens online opens up a can of worms, and you’ll have to figure out how to negotiate that new relationship. If your teens let you friend or follow them, stay in the background (don’t comment or “like” their posts unless they want you to), pick your battles, and make sure to address anything important face to face, not on their pages in front of their friends.”
Here is how one teen responded to that advice:
“Some people want to have a part of them to be separate from their parents. I know I act differently around my parents than I do my friends. Not in a bad way. But just having that little part of you private is ok and should be allowed. If you trust them to have social media then you can trust them to be able to make the right choice about comments and what kind of pics they deem appropriate.”
So now, I put it out there to you. Do you follow your teen on social media? Why or why not? Have you ever been blocked, and if so, how did you handle it?