When we hear about the tragic suicide of a youth, many authorities, family members and friends will go straight to their Facebook page to see if there were any warning signs.
Is your teen acting withdrawn? Secretive? Shutting down their screen as you walk by? Losing weight? Gaining weight? Changing friends? Recent boyfriend break-up? Starting to fail in school when they always exceeded? Not working up to their academic potential? Dropping out of sports or other activities? Depressed?
Do you suspect they are being bullied or cyberbullied?
Especially with the holidays approaching, teenagers can feel blue just like some adults. Know how your kids are feeling.
What are their Facebook status saying?
“When will this end?”
“I hate my life…”
RED FLAGS and parenting. Know them!
Facebook is the social hangout of the internet for all ages, but it is particularly true of teenagers.
Teenagers often are much more open about what they are thinking and feeling in this cyber environment than most older adults, though some parents are proving to be venting machines too. Since teens experience many emotional ups and downs, it can be easy to dismiss most of their dramatic postings as nothing more than normal teenage drama. However, there have been too many instances in recent years when parents had wished they’d paid more attention to what their teenager had posted as their ‘current status’.
Here a few status updates parents should watch for and investigate further.
- I can’t take it anymore. Although, this could mean anything from homework overload to sibling irritation, it could also be a cry for help from a teen who is truly overwhelmed with life in someway. It is not a status update that you want to ignore. Parents should take the initiative and find out what prompted this entry.
- Text me. This may seem innocent enough, but, for some parents, it may be a signal that their teen may be trying to keep something hidden that needs to be in the open. Privacy and protection are always a fine line to walk with teenagers. Parents, however, should never hesitate to ask about the reason behind such a post.
- Really loaded right now. If your teen is high enough to make this post on Facebook without thinking about the fact that their parents might see it, there is drug or alcohol abuse going on. Ignoring these types of problems does not make them go away.
- Depressing song lyrics. Song lyrics are popular posts from teens. It may be what they’re listening to at the moment or a song that is running through their head. If the lyrics of the songs are continually negative and depressing, this could be an indication of the teen’s emotional state, as well.
- No one understands. This is a common feeling during teenage years, but it is also one that can develop into a true depressive state. Seeing this posted as your teen’s Facebook status should raise enough concern for their parents to pursue the reasons behind the posting.
- I hate my life. Again, this is not an unusual statement to come from a teen at different points in their adolescence, however, posting it as your Facebook status is similar to shouting it from the rooftops. It is always better to treat these statements seriously, than to ignore them as a simple impulse statement.
- Forgive me, Mom & Dad. This kind of post would be one that should require immediate connection with your child. If it doesn’t mention what they are asking forgiveness for, it may be a subtle plea for you to stop them from doing something terrible. Take this very seriously!
- You’re all going to die. In light of the terrible things we have seen happen in our schools, a teen who posts something like this should not be ignored. “I was just joking” is not an acceptable explanation for this type of post. A teen who posts such a statement publicly should expect inquiry from, not only his parents, but school and law enforcement as well.
- I wish I were dead. Never assume these statements are words only. Any type of suicidal expression like this should be taken very seriously. Many parents have had the misfortune of finding out that even a verbal statement can be an indication of suicidal thoughts. A public posting of that thought should be taken just as seriously.
- I hate my school. The key word in this status update is ‘my’. It doesn’t say ‘I hate school’, it is more specific than that. It would behoove the parents to find out what it is, about the child’s school, that made them post this statement, and what can be done to improve the situation.
Facebook status updates reach a lot of people, a parent of a teenager should definitely be one of those people who pays attention to what their child is broadcasting into cyberspace. It may be their way of trying to find out if anyone is really paying attention, and if anyone really cares.
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Other articles for your consideration:
Safety Features to Enforce Your Pre-Teen’s Facebook Use
Stopping Teen Bullying on Social Media
Social Climbing: What Teens Will Do To Climb the Social Media Ladder
Encouraging Kids to Become Cyber-Mentors