Friday, February 25, 2011


NBC recently aired a special on various "commercials" that had aired over the years on Saturday Night Live. It provided me with a welcome evening of laughing, and also reminiscing as old faces popped up--Gilda Radnor, John Belushi among them.

One commercial in particular struck a most topical note--it was for a product that turns teens' posts on Facebook or their text messages on cell phones into Mom friendly content. The commercial was titled "Damn It, My Mom is on Facebook".*

In its wry way, SNL had poked fun at an issue parents today face. True, parents have always faced this issue--that is finding out what your children are doing, and whether or not as a parent you are ever justified in snooping.

Years ago, I knew of a mother whose family called her "J. Edgar" for her snooping ways. She rifled through their dresser drawers, she read anything she found in their room, she looked under beds, lifted mattresses and so forth. I can't imagine what she would be doing in the present world of electronic communication.

Where once the parental dilemma might have been "should I read that diary or not?" now the question is "should I friend my child on Facebook or not?" Some parents handle the dilemma, especially for pre-teens, by not allowing a Facebook profile to their children under a specific age. Some parents limit computer and cell-phone use.

Many advice givers intone sternly--make sure your child does not have a computer in her room; place the computer in a family accessible location. Or, don't give your child a cell phone until...or get a plan that doesn't allow texting. Or whatever.
I have wondered what it might have been like for my husband and me as parents to raise our children in this over-exposed electronic age. Our questions dealt with more passive electronic--should she have a TV in her room or not. It is with great amusement that I recall the dilemma of my own teen years--having a radio in my room. I listened late at night, turning the volume way down low so my aunt and uncle (with whom I lived) wouldn't hear--generally rock and roll was verboten.

What do parents today do? Whatever it is, I would venture that the temptation to be a sleuth still rises within each parental breast. I come down on the side of honoring your children's privacy, but being very watchful and attuned to them.
How about you?

*By the way, you can watch the SNL "commercial" here.


Anvilcloud said...

I don't think it's a good idea to go sleuthing without probably cause.

Ginnie said...

To lead by example is the best solution that I can think of for any problems that arise. Sleuthing will just cause resentments and sneakiness on the part of the least those are my feelings about it.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm so glad my kids did not have Internet. It must make parenting so much more difficult.

While I would never read my child's diary, I would definitely have checked the computer for the sites he or she was visiting.

Back in the "old" days, the car full of kids forgot that Mom was even there and would talk rather freely about what was going on in their lives. I learned a lot on those carpooling trips. Now, the kids sit in the car and text one another so Mom has no idea what's going on.

Jayne said...

Now, that's pretty darn funny! They do say there's an app for everything!

Of course, I don't have to deal with this regarding Sam, but see my sister struggling with it all the time. Her 16 year old just started driving and she's been tempted to look into a GPS on the car so that she knows where he is, but I think there is a point where you simply have to trust that you've taught them right from wrong and pray that they make right decisions.

Ruth said...

Snooping destroys trust and it may never be regained. I always told our daughters I would never punish them for coming to me with the truth. "Watchful and attuned" - I like those words.

Cathy said...

Every situation is so different. I can't imagine having a kid I'd be worried about, but you never know. I I had concerns I'd not hesitate to sleuth and then confront.

It was so much easier raising children before cyberspace. So many things have changed.

PS. I made your chicken with barley soup that you once posted on Saturday Soups!
Um Um Good! Thank you :0)

BettieB said...

I definately agree about giving your children some privacy while keeping a close watch on their lives and activities. We are about the same age,and I also did not have to deal with my children in the electronic age. My condundrum was whether or not to read my daughter's diary. I chose not to and I would make the same decision again today. I am on facebook with my children and while I don't always approve of what they post, I respect their right to do so.
By the way, I really enjoy your blogs, they are always interesting.

KGMom said...

The consensus seems to be that snooping on your children is a prescription for poisoning the parent/child relationship.
The other consensus seems to be we are glad we could raise children in the non-electronic saturation age.
Cathy--hi, haven't heard from you for awhile. Oh, I need to post more soups.
BettieB--welcome. Do you write a blog? I checked your profile, and would love to read your thoughts on books you read.

jeanmac said...

I think I would check their online reads - this is such a different world.

BettieB said...

Yes, I do have a blog - I just started it recently. The site is and I would love to have you stop by. I am a complete amateur at it and hope to learn from interesting blogs like yours.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I child has a right to privacy. Limits on electronic stuff is something else. It seem modern parents do not limit that enough if you believe the statics that show children spend so much time on their electronic toys it contributes to the national obesity problem.

Mauigirl said...

All of this just makes me glad I didn't have kids at all! However, I do see my friends' kids growing up around me and they all seem to manage quite well throughout the whole internet maze and all its issues. I think good communications with your kids is the most important thing. That SNL ad was hilarious though!