Teens using Facebook as a Diary Can Become a Nightmare

A friend of mine called me a few weeks ago to ask me what was going on with my son. She said he posted something kind of depressing on Facebook. Truthfully, I hadn’t been paying much attention to his postings so I quickly went online to check.

He had posted something about feeling really lonely and alone after breaking up with his girlfriend and then asking a girl out and being turned down. I could understand his sadness but I was horrified over making his feelings so public. I saw a few comments below the post and they weren’t particularly kind. I immediately got into his account deleted the post.

That’s when I began to wonder….Do teens understand that Facebook isn’t a diary? Do they realize that using it like a diary opens them up to kids they may barely know commenting publicly on their feelings? What a nightmare that could be!

Later that day, I sat down with my son. I handed him a small notebook to use as a diary and explained the difference between it and Facebook. I told him Facebook is a place to post things that he’s doing, places he visits or songs he likes, stuff like that…a place for fun and keeping up with friends.Then, I explained the diary was a place he could write his feelings, which are personal.

I think the problem is there is no rule book for Facebook and teens are trying to figure it out on their own. I just read a WSJ article about tweens whose parents wouldn’t let them have a Facebook account so they found ways around it by finding new social media sites unsupervised by their families. Does it surprise you that a recent survey found a third of teens say their parents don’t know what they do online?

Is it really possible to anticipate how our teens will use social media? Should I have sat down with my son years ago when he first got on Facebook and explained in more detail how to use it? Have you run into problems with the way your teen has used Facebook?


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