Writings on your wall

7th March 2014 at 00:00

According to my children, my one redeeming feature as a parent is that I don't use Facebook. It's not that I'm not embarrassing: I have fleeces, red Lego hair and a preference for men's shoes (they're so much easier on your corns). But in the humiliate-your-child stakes these are nothing compared with being a Facebook user.

Children are rightly terrified of digitally active parents. One wrong post by your mother can destroy your reputation for ever. Having her Lol-ing all over your status updates relegates you to the same social caste as the kid who collects stamps.

Parents and teenage children aren't meant to mix. Ours is a world of buttered toast, gardening mags and knitting; theirs is brimming with virtual shoot-em-ups, Candy Crush Saga and virulent sex. But thanks to the wormhole of social media, the two are now interlinked. Which means that our children can witness the dullness of our lives (where "I'm making jam" qualifies as a valid status) and we can see what they do behind locked bedroom doors. Neither of which is conducive to harmonious family relationships.

Some things in life should be kept hidden. I never wanted to know the ins and outs of my daughter's social life when she lived at home and I certainly don't want to be a fly on her Facebook wall now she's hundreds of miles away. That's because I'm a stalwart of the laissez-faire school of parenting that teaches that what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.

Besides which, living your life online seems such a pointless waste of time. If the latest statistics are anything to go by, the average smartphone user squanders more than two hours a day on their phone, spending 12 minutes on actual calls and much of the rest on social media. No wonder my students' homework is never in on time. What did we do with those hours in the past? Conduct appendectomies? Discover new galaxies? Even if all you managed was to handwash your tights, that's got to be more productive than pinning pink things to a Pinterest board.

All that said, I sometimes try out the latest apps with a view to getting down with the kids. Tinder is my most recent adventure. This dating app finds your location by GPS, then links you to nearby singletons. Its immediacy makes it addictive. My daughter demonstrated it on her phone: as pictures of potential partners appear, you swipe right to agree to a "match" or left to "block". She should have told me this before giving me her phone, though. Before you could say "old person with technology" I had matched her with a white supremacist, a man in a wig and an extra from The Walking Dead. Fortunately, she was able to undo my work.

Had I been on Facebook, I would no doubt have been publicly berated for this. But as always, I've been too busy daubing my tights with Lenor to be susceptible to online assault.

Beverley Briggs is a secondary school teacher from County Durham, England

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