My lovely daughter-in-law Aileen was leaving the house as I returned from grocery shopping.
“You might not know that Facebook has been down for two hours now,” she quipped.
“That includes WhatsApp and Instagram!”
I didn’t know that Facebook was down and I was happy that I didn’t. Aileen went on to say that she missed WhatsApp for calls as they have no phone coverage in their house.
A day later there was general outrage that Facebook had been unavailable for six hours
Consequently, calls using internet are their only means of communication. Obviously, it was an annoying issue for them.
A day later there was general outrage that Facebook had been unavailable for six hours. Facebook was apologising, advertisers were cross and some people found it liberating not to be tied to social media. This was the feedback from adults who could evaluate the situation and possibly wonder: “Am I addicted to this?”
I wonder were some teenagers relieved with the reprieve or did they just panic until they understood that they were not alone in their isolation. I have to say that I’m glad that I’m not trying to navigate the minefield of social media with teenagers. They are so vulnerable and locked into the madness that social media can generate.
I have an account that I might have a look at once a month out of curiosity. I did find it useful when my children were travelling
I think I’m lucky that I’ve never really understood the pull of Facebook.
I have an account that I might have a look at once a month out of curiosity. I did find it useful when my children were travelling. I might not get a long-awaited phone call, but at least I knew they were alive and well by their Facebook posts!
It is also a good means of communicating news to people who are abroad and keeping them in the family loop.
Facebook also owns WhatsApp. We have several WhatsApp groups for the various family combinations, friends and most importantly farming. It is practical and useful.
I have always felt that it is a self-promoting application and was surprised to learn that this is the app most used by teenagers in the UK
Instagram is also a part of the Facebook suite. I have an account but only add to it occasionally. My understanding is that this is where pictures and videos are shared. I have always felt that it is a self-promoting application and was surprised to learn that this is the app most used by teenagers in the UK.
I listened to two interviews on Newstalk with Dr Mary Aiken, professor of cyber psychology at Capital Technical University in Washington DC. I find her fascinating.
Dr Aiken said that parents need to find out what Ireland is doing to protect children especially when Facebook’s headquarters are in Ireland
She commended the whistleblower Frances Hangen from Facebook who revealed that Facebook was steering young users of Instagram to damaging content. Dr Aiken said that parents need to find out what Ireland is doing to protect children especially when Facebook’s headquarters are in Ireland. She said that parents needed to push politicians for answers.
Facebook’s own research finds that 40% of teenagers that use Facebook and Instagram reported feeling unattractive and felt worse about themselves. This is so sad. They also said that they felt addicted to it, would check their Instagram feeds often and couldn’t stop. She highlighted that the teenagers volunteered the information that Instagram increased their anxiety and contributed to depression.
Dr Mary Aiken was emphatic about the risk of harm to young people when engaging with these platforms.
Over to parents
So, what do parents do? I wish I had answers.
It is highly unlikely that teenagers will know that they are being manipulated so that means you won’t know. Their privacy needs to be respected so it is also unlikely that they will want you to read their phones.
Older siblings can give serious guidance to younger, more vulnerable brothers and sisters
Their biggest fear is always that you will take the phone off them so of course they will hide anything that might alert a parent’s suspicion.
Older siblings can give serious guidance to younger, more vulnerable brothers and sisters. Similarly, older cousins can give practical guidance.
They are generally considered heroes by the younger folk. The other avenue available to parent’s is to upskill yourself so that you can discuss the “goings on” within the apps.
Don’t express outrage if you see something untoward. Discuss it under some other guise
With Instagram, ask them who they are following for fashion, exercise or whatever their interests are. Follow those yourself and at least you have a discrete way of keeping an eye on some of the stuff they are seeing. Don’t express outrage if you see something untoward. Discuss it under some other guise. Facebook certainly has questions to answer.