Kids leave Facebook as parents spoil the fun

Teens leaving Facebook: One mom knows the reason, and it's MUMPS (Massively Uncool, Middle-aged Parents). 

Kristen Hansen Brakeman/Facebook
Screenshot from Facebook.

By now most have heard the news that teens have abandoned their Facebook pages quicker than they flee when someone yells, “Their parents are home!” at a backyard party.

But where have they gone? Did they suddenly pick up bat and ball, take to the great outdoors, or have a renewed interest in their academic studies?

No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. They’ve simply moved to other social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter.

Now before you get too worried about the size of Mark Zuckerberg’s retirement account, fear not – teens haven’t deleted their Facebook accounts.  Instead, according to experts, teens now treat their Facebook page as a chore, something you do every week or two like clean your room, make your bed, or finish your chemistry homework.

One wonders what motivated teens to migrate, and why now when Facebook stock is finally rising and the company is so close to its goal of worldwide domination.

Analysts believe that teens left because of MUMPS like me: Massively Uncool, Middle-aged Parents. We “Mommed” it all up, and ruined it for everyone.

We posted mundane pictures of our kids sleeping, we tagged shots of them as naked babies on Throwback Thursday, and we bragged about their drama awards, school dance dates, and soccer trophies with the most distant members of our families.  What’s worse, we even made Grandma join.

But why did we do it?  Is it because we, as parents, always have to spoil the fun?

No! It’s because the experts told us to. They said we needed to stay connected and monitor our teens on social media. These experts scared us into thinking that if we didn’t t keep track of our child’s every move then we’d lose them to creepy forty-five year-old “Catfishers” who would lure them to the nearest Greyhound bus station, or our kids would post pictures of themselves in revealing bathing suits, or even worse – announce to the world that our family has gone away to Maui on vacation.

Our motivations were pure. We were protecting our kids. But then, something happened: we got hooked.  We became Facebook addicts ourselves, and we ruined it, just like we parents ruin everything by getting over-involved.

Of this, I’m guiltier than most.

My daughter showed an interest in fashion so what did I do?  I signed her up for sewing, fashion sketching, and fashion design.  I even enrolled her in this over-the-top college course where they did a professional runway show, complete with models.  Then, you guessed it; she lost all interest in fashion.

I did the same thing with ballet, art, and softball.  It’s a very predictable cycle: she shows a little interest, I become over-involved, and then voila, her interest wanes.

I’m not alone. We are a generation of parents who helicopter, interfere, and micromanage. At my daughter’s high school, the membership of the choral parent support group practically outnumber the chorus, there are more athletic boosters than qualified athletes, and the number of volunteers at the elementary school Jogathan often exceeds the runners.

It was so different when we grew up. Other than Open House night, my parents never set foot on my school’s campus. My husband’s parents only rarely attended his baseball games, and when I went out with my friends for the evening – now brace yourselves – my parents had no idea where I had gone.

Even though we Americans pride ourselves on our ingenuity and independent spirit, our generation seems bent on creating a generation of overly dependent, submissive drones.

Well I, for one, am going to do my best to stop. I’m going to step back and let my kids do their own thing for a change. I’m gonna try to let their interests grow on their own, or fizzle as they may. I’ll remove the tracking device from their necks, drop the Smart Limits from their cell phones, and I’ll stop showing up at every single event at their schools.

And who knows, I might even log on to Facebook and “Un-Friend” them as well.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Kristen Hansen Brakeman blogs at kristenbrakeman.com.

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