Teens, Parents, and Trust

December 2, 2009
By Anonymous

About a year ago, I was invited to the mall by my friends. One of them had missed my birthday and wanted to buy me a shirt, but in order to go, I had to get permission from my parents; there were two guys in the group. My parents agreed to let me go, but only if another girl stayed with us. The four of us wandered in the mall for about an hour or two, but then, the other girl was informed that she had to leave early. I was left alone with the two guys, but I did not mind and I was sure that, if I explained the situation to my parents as soon as I got home, they would understand. The three of us left soon afterwards.
After I was dropped off and entered my house, I searched for my mother. My little brother began to follow me as if he knew something interesting was about to happen. When I found my mom, she led me to my room with a storm in her step before I had a chance to explain anything. My mom told my brother to leave as we reached the doorway; the two of us stepped in alone, and the door was shut and locked. It was then that I discovered that my friend, the girl that was with me at the mall, had called my house phone instead of my cell phone after she left and my mom had answered. I tried to explain the situation to her, but she did not seem interested in what I had to say; she obviously did not believe it. My dad found out as soon as he got home; apparently, they both felt like they had been tricked.

All I would have to do when I wanted to go out with my friends before then was to inform my parents where I was going and what time I would be home. Now, they want to know where I am going, what time I will be back, everyone I am going to be with, and what we are doing. I am not saying that it is wrong to care, but there is a line between caring and invading. Sometimes, my friends and I do not always know what we are doing. Sometimes, I do not know which of my friends are able to go. Parents sometimes have reasons to think that they cannot trust their teenagers, but in a simple, unfortunate series of situations, teens should have a second chance to prove they are trustworthy, especially when the teen has done nothing ahead of time to give their parent a reason to think differently.
Many parents automatically assume that they cannot trust their teens because of factors such as drugs, sex, or violence. It has gotten to the point where parents are getting Facebook accounts in order to monitor their teenagers. Obviously, parents do not trust their teens online either. With a Facebook account, a parent could view every picture, note, comment, or video that their teen posts. This enables them to see everything their child has done or said when they are not around. It is almost a total invasion of privacy. According to a recent study, “the percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds that have a profile on Facebook has dropped from 55% at the start of last year to 50% this year… 46% of 25- to 34-year-olds are now regularly checking up Facebook.” (Facebook Overrun). Those who preformed this study believe that social networks, such as Facebook, as simply going out of style. However, a big factor that could contribute to the loss of teens of Facebook might be because their parents watch them on Facebook. I have friends that have made two Facebook accounts in order to hide from their parents. Personally, I would do the same. Another thing parents do to prove their distrust in their children is implanting GPS systems into their teen’s cell phone or car so that they can monitor their teen’s whereabouts at all times. Knowing their parents can monitor them from pictures or GPS systems will not necessarily stop a teen from doing certain things, but it will close them up and make them less willing to share with their parents.
However, the problem may not be the distrust towards teenagers; there may be a larger societal issue at work. Believe it or not, the outside world is a very dangerous place with dangerous people. Parents know that staying inside is much safer than going out; not necessarily so they can keep on eye on what you are doing, but to be sure no one else is doing anything to you. The truth, though, is that the internet community teens use at home can prove to be just as dangerous because the internet links to the outside world. Once teens post their pictures and personal information on networks such as Facebook, there is no turning back. Anything posted online is stuck online, whether it is deleted or not. For parents who do truly trust their teens, this issue might be what they fear.
I believe though, that some restriction and awareness is acceptable. For example, a GPS can be placed in a teen’s car, but only if the teen knows. Also, the GPS should not be checked unless the parent seriously suspects something is going wrong such as a teen staying out past curfew. The Facebook account is tricky to compromise, but parents do not need an account simply to watch over their teen. They should simply, occasionally skim over their teen’s page, but only when the teen is present. This will better develop a sense of trust and understanding.
Even if the outside world and Facebook can be dangerous, that does not necessarily give parents a reason to constantly stalk their children. After all, they can not follow their teens forever. Parents need to believe that they have taught their teens the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Also, they need to believe that teens do have a sense of responsibility. Most teens do not post inappropriate pictures, give out personal information, or lie to their parents because they know the consequences. Freedom is important for showing a trusting relationship between a parent and their teenager; so unless a parent knows for a fact that they have a reason to think otherwise such as evidence or suspicious behavior, they should put faith and trust into their teens. Knowing that these feelings exist between a teen and their parents will help make them more likely to have a strong relationship.

The author's comments:
A paper I wrote for my senior english class. I think it is a popular topic among many teenagers.

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