teens on facebook

I’m chatting on BBC Berkshire today about the Headteacher who believes that Social media is making it more diffcult for parents to discipline their children by sending them to their room.

Teenagers are increasingly refusing to back down in disputes with their parents as friends egg them on via Facebook or Twitter, she said.

Alice Phillips, the headmistress of St Catherine’s school, an independent girls’ school near Guildford, said that parents needed greater courage than ever to say no to their children.

“Parents are becoming less bold and intuitive in parenting adolescents,” she said. “Today, social media means they are conscious that their every action is under ‘Global Scrutiny’

Instead of stalking off to their bedroom to calm down after a fight, children are now more likely to continue the argument by broadcasting the details of their parents’ unreasonableness to their friends online, she suggested.

Mrs Phillips, who is also president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) said: “I believe that parenting has never been as difficult as it is today.

“Why? Because one’s instincts are constantly challenged and spontaneous confidence dissolves. Parents are becoming less bold and intuitive in parenting adolescents. Today, social media means they are conscious that their every action is the subject of global scrutiny.

“Children, as grumpy as any of us were when given the answer ‘no’, retreat in the same way to their bedrooms but instead of reflecting for a while to blaring music, broadcast their parents’ apparently unreasonable behaviour to all their Facebook friends, or Twitter followers, whose own parents are apparently also ‘completely out of touch’.

“Where once they might have taken time out to come to their senses, apologise and ‘move on’, now they are more likely to continue the fight.”

Mrs Phillips told the GSA’s annual conference in London that in a world of electronic media, today’s youngsters pay far more attention to others’ opinions of them than in the past.

“Their formative impressions are of being watched and judged rather than of simply being and discovering,” she said. “And if it’s tough, they take it out on parents” Mrs Phillips told delegates that she often uses the phrase “a mother’s place is in the wrong”, to reassure the mothers of teenage girls “who have suddenly discovered that there might be a competition to be won for the place of alpha female in the family pack.”

“Nonetheless, it takes courage and a long time these days to stay out there ‘in the wrong’ until your teen gradually realises that you are in fact dependable, wise and ‘in the right’,” she said.

The school leader said mothers and fathers need to know that teachers understand the challenges they face and suggested that schools could offer parenting classes.

“Can we get alongside parents and support them more?” Mrs Phillips asked. “Should schools offer more structured and reassuring courses on what to expect at each stage of their child’s development?

“Can we supplement the routine formula of parents’ evenings which have the aura of speed dating – without the excitement – or routine lectures on the next stage of the curriculum to be taught and assessed, with something more informal that facilitates dialogue between parents who may often feel isolated in making big parenting decisions or holding the unpopular line?”

I remember shouting and swearing into my cupboard, where my Mum couldn’t hear me, about a row we had but apart from that, that was all you could do back in my day !

What are your experiences?