My Mom Warned Me

Beginning in 8th grade, I was introduced into the wondrous world of having a portable computer. That’s right: At the ripe ole’ age of 13, I received my first laptop, and thus began an unhealthy relationship with social media.

I was a socially active high-schooler. On many occasions, I found myself fighting with my parents to lengthen my curfew, allotting me more time to enjoy the destructive merriment my friend group would engage in. To me, the freedom to do as one pleased was indispensable. I craved time with my friends. I craved time away from my house. More importantly, I craved autonomy.

That’s why, on the weeknights of a school week, where work would overflow out of my binders and the weight of my backpack would bend and twist my spine, giving me scoliosis (actually happened), I rejoiced in the access of having a computer. It took one click to get to Facebook and instant messenger, all of this wrapped in the beauty of knowing my parents had little to no control over where I decided to venture.

However, they did attempt, to the best of their capabilities, to restrict my access to platforms like Facebook. In them, they saw a bedeviling force that depreciated my intellectual facilities while simultaneously driving my motivation levels 50 feet into the ground. Their understanding of my use was that the more time I spent aimlessly engaging with my friends, the less time I would give to my work, resulting in poorer grades and “a waste of my potential.”

Well, to put it frankly, I stood my ground when these discussions would arise. I remained steadfast in my notion that Facebook and messenger applications were the only way I could remain in contact with the social intricacies of school. Through my whining and moaning, I tried to use my limited view on social media to explain the benefits of it, but it hardly worked. I was greeted with disappointment whenever I refused to listen.

Looking back on it, I think my parents had a point. Much like Carr laid out in The Shallows, pervasive use of the internet was changing the nuerophysiological functions of my brain. What defined my development was an itch to click, to change websites, to stay connected online while my brain became more susceptible to distractedness.

But much like the stories of It’s Complicated, my story was indeed nuanced. As Boyd explains, the way adults view their teen’s use of social media is laced with extremities. Many times, they believe their kid is wasting their life away, or dancing in and around dangerous situations where someone online could enchant their kid into drug use, or worse. These fears drive much of a parent’s willingness to control their kid’s online presence.

What they don’t understand is what their kid is really engaging in when he/she goes on social media. Through her research, Boyd found that kids revel in the ability to stay in touch with friends. Their lives are over-saturated with work and sports and other activities, and for teens, social media is how they stay in the loop with friends and acquaintances. Moreover, Boyd’s research indicates the possible benefits of having a robustly active social media presence. She exclaims that the fears swirling around social media can be misguided; in actuality, a kid’s social media has constructive qualities.

Author: wkebbe

Reader and writer, trying to accumulate knowledge and remain curious about the unknown

6 thoughts on “My Mom Warned Me”

  1. Will, First of all, what a beautiful, smart piece of writing—I love it! Second, that’s an interesting interview with boyd! Third, not to end on a downer, but wouldn’t it be great if you could connect those those two? A++ for writing; a well, you did it, anyway, for audio! ~Joe


  2. Parents want to influence their children both online and in person. They fear that their child will make a mistake that will wreck them forever. The end result is a limited freedom that stresses out both ends, and children not becoming accustomed to having freedom and control. Boyd makes a good point in the interview you showed, the best plan is not to just restrict and monitor (because the everyone acts differently when they know that they’re being watched, that’s why I’ve met a lot of people with two accounts on social media sites). Its best to inform the child about the potential consequence of actions, have them make a few mistakes and learn from it, then force them to live duplicitous lives. Teach them and communicate with them.


  3. Parents are always going to worry about their children, but adding technology to that, just creates more of an unknown. I agree that using technology after school and activities was just a way to continue to stay in touch with our friends, while being with our families or doing homework. I like that you say that parents’ fears can be “misguided” because parents didn’t grow up with the same technology we have so from that unknowing they are less likely to understand their child’s motives.


  4. As always, Will, you’re writing both impresses me and fills me with jealousy. You have such great organization in all of your pieces. I love how this time you added a personal story to the piece. Usually, your specific syntax is what stands out to me the most, but the reflection of your childhood really resonated with me. Even today, with all of the activities I’m involved in, I find it hard to scrape out time for friends and even family. Social media is the best way for me to keep in touch with everyone, as well as keep them in the loop with my life and achievements.


  5. You were the same teenager as me! Forget schoolwork when we have Facebook, or even further back, MySpace. I also enjoyed your reflection of a personal story and how it works in well with the text. My Facebook and other social media is how I keep in touch my friends and family as well, especially with my hectic schedule. So I can definitely relate!


  6. Thank you all for the kind words! I’m sure my story has a lot of similarities with yours. We all were subjected to the pull and push of extensive social media use, and all of us cautious to let it happen again. But when we are parents, will we enact the same dynamic forces our parents laid on us? Will we want our kids to restrict their time online as well? Who knows.


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