Facebook discipline: What do you think?

April 26, 2012

An Ohio mother is getting some attention Thursday after a local television station highlighted her unique decision to punish her daughter using Facebook.

According to a report from Akron, Ohio’s NBC affiliate WKYC, Denise Abbott created a photo for the cover of her daughter’s Facebook profile of her 13-year-old with an “x” taped over her mouth and the caption: “I do not know how to keep my [mouth shut]. I am no longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why my mom says I have to answer everyone that asks.”

As social networks become a more integral part of young people’s social lives, parents have had to grapple with how much they should or shouldn’t interfere with those accounts. Several parents I know have rules about what their kids can post online and who they can communicate with online. But different parents have different approaches to how much they monitor Facebook and how involved they are in their children’s digital lives.

Abbott’s method of Facebook discipline was certainly less extreme than the North Carolina father who shot his daughter’s laptop in retaliation for a post she made complaining about doing her chores, and it appears to have worked as well.

The report says that her daughter, Ava, said that she feels like she “deserved it because I was mean to my mom” and was disrespectful to Denise in front of Ava’s classmates.

Ava, Abbott told the station, will be allowed to use her Facebook account and cellphone in “about a week.”

It’s a good idea for parents to keep an eye on their kids’ social networks, and parents are going about it in different ways.

A survey from AVG Technologies found that 61 percent of parents sneak in to their child’s Facebook account to understand their kids’ online behavior. (For what it’s worth, the report also notes that the same percentage of teens told the Pew Center for Internet and American Life that the same percentage of teens say they know parents are monitoring their social network sites.)

For more serious issues that pop up on social networking sites, there are official channels that parents and their kids can follow. Bullying and the posting of inappropriate content on Facebook has been a major concern, particularly for the parents of younger users.

Anyone can report abuse or harassment on the social networking site in one-click on the site. Facebook on Thursday released a tool that makes it easier to track complaints about content on the social network. The company launched a support dashboard for users of its site who want to know more about the company’s process for reporting content that violates its community standards.

The dashboard will track reports of photos and timelines and provide explanation about why action was or was not taken on any given complaint.

More technology news:

Facebook said to have date for IPO

The Verge- Report: Facebook-centric smartphone may launch later this year

Slate: Welcome to the Microsoft Store

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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