An Arkansas mother has been charged with harrassment by her 16-year-old son, for what amounts to embarrassing him on Facebook (i.e. making "slanderous comments," about him on the site, and possibly gaining access to his account). The details are unclear, and there are complications. For starters, the teenager is in the custody of his grandmother, not his mom. Here's the story, on KATV in Arkadelphia:
The mother is planning to fight the charges, saying, "You're within your legal rights to monitor your child and to have a conversation with your child on Facebook whether it's his account, or your account or whoever's account. It's crazy to me that we're even having this interview."
And of course, the blogosphere is going wild, with the majority of commenters supporting the mother. I'm with the mother on this one, too, although I'd be very interested in knowing where the grandmother is in all of this, and whether or not she was monitoring the teen's online activity. The last thing we need is another taxpayer-funded family feud, played out in the media and the courts, but with all of the concern over child predators online, how can anyone doubt the need for kids to be supervised on the web?
In this particular story, the teen had apparently shared information about his own illegal and unsafe activity online, and his mother was concerned, according to her, and felt the need to intervene. Can anyone really blame her? Which is more important - temporarily wounding your child's ego, or losing him forever? That's not a hard decision to make. I hope this situation is resolved quickly, and that this young man learns some important lessons.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.