Adults on social media: Changing student behavior

There’s no denying it: Social media is not just for teens. When students realize their online profiles are within eyesight of parents and school administrators, it may affect their Internet activity.

Welcome to 2013, when parents have figured out Facebook: how to friend their kids, follow what they post, and write embarrassing comments on their pictures. When the social media “world” becomes not so private and parents and school administrators can see shared tweets and pictures, some students change what they do and say online.

I used to post funny things that were kind of inappropriate at some points, but then my mom found my Twitter….so I don’t have the same tweets that I used to.”

— Sophomore Jackson Lange

Sophomore Jackson Lange has over 800 followers on Twitter, and tweets many times every day. He says now that his mom follows him on Twitter, he has had to filter what he tweets.

“I used to post funny things that were kind of inappropriate at some points, but then my mom found my Twitter, and she was like ‘You need to stop being this funny,’ so I don’t have the same tweets that I used to,” Lange said.

Lange said his tweets would sometimes have a bad word in them, or he would tweet something that his mom did not approve of and she would make him delete it.

“One time my mom came up to me and she was like ‘Um, I’ve been hearing that you’ve been posting some weird stuff on Twitter about me, and making fun of me,’ and she confronted me about it,” Lange said.

Monitoring who and what he tweets about is the only reason his mom uses Twitter, Lange said. She gets on often and keeps constant tabs of what he is doing.

“She claims she uses it to tweet,” Lange said, “but her only tweet is from March 14th; I remember this because I go on her account so much to block her.”

Lange said he has learned a few ways to still have “fun” on Twitter despite his mom’s monitoring, including using slang words that his mom will not be able to understand.

Statistics from McAfee and Pew Research Center

Another sophomore who is an avid tweeter, Enya De Luna, has no parental monitoring on her Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram accounts. She said knowing that she will not get in trouble for something she posts lets her feel comfortable sharing anything she wants.

“The fact that they can’t see it means I probably post things I wouldn’t post if they could see it, but it doesn’t really change much,” De Luna said.

De Luna said her parents do not watch what she does on social media. If they did follow her, she said they would not do anything about her inappropriate posts.

[My parents] don’t think it’s up to them to worry about what I’m doing online. If I do anything stupid, It’s on me, it’s not on them.”

— Sophomore Enya De Luna

“I think they’d probably just shrug it off; I don’t think they would really do much about it,” De Luna said. “They don’t think its up to them to worry about what I’m doing online. If I do anything stupid, It’s on me, it’s not on them.”

De Luna’s father, Arturo, said he does not need to watch what his daughter does because she knows what the consequences are for doing things she should not do on social media.

“I trust that she will make the right decisions,” Arturo said.

Junior Erin Lazarus also tweets without any parental monitoring. She said that if her parents were to start looking at her tweets, they might be a little disappointed because of slang, song lyrics, and some bad words in her tweets.

However, more than her parents, Erin said she is concerned with the school administration viewing her Twitter.

“I am still not one hundred percent sure why, but for some reason, someone turned in my Twitter,” Lazarus said. “I don’t even know what I did.”

Lazarus said a school administrator confronted her and asked her to delete a specific tweet that the administrator had seen on her account.

“I was told several times that people watch my account and I honestly do not know why,” Lazarus said. “I think that is so rude, unless [administration has] a reason, like unless I’m bullying people or something, which I don’t.”

Whether students would prefer to face it or not, the adults in their lives have discovered new ways to monitor their media presence. Both parents and school administrators are aware of the social media world. Having quick access to exactly what their kids are talking to their friends about may have no effect, or it can make for some pretty awkward dinner conversations.