After reading this story, you may think I’m the worst parent ever or you may think that I’m the best parent ever. Nevertheless, I proudly claim both titles because I earned them: Without her knowledge, I hacked into my teenager’s Facebook account. I willingly peered into every hidden corner of her life, and she doesn’t know that I did it. Why did I do it? Because I could. And because I want to be a good parent.
As the old saying goes, we only know about 10% of what’s really goes on in our kid’s lives. I know. I was a teenager once. Although my mom would disagree, I didn’t tell her much of anything during my turbulent adolescence. Like most kids, I only told her what she wanted to hear.
“How was school, Dave?” She would ask.
“Fine,” was my standard answer.
Little did my mom know that my life was ruined on a daily basis from romantic horrors, social disappointments, and my own reckless attitudes and behaviors. There were some high points, however. I did get a hickey once—a nasty, bloody one. I can still feel the pain to this very day. But, I would never dare tell ole mom about that, either. Although her concerns were genuine, my mom was completely oblivious to my daily highs, lows and woes.
Because of my own teenage agony, I made it my mission to learn all I could about my own teenager’s life. I was already well aware that she was quite the Facebook junkie. Her face is glued to it day and night—constantly typing away on her phone. It was easy to determine that, instead of posting status updates, my teenager used the power of Facebook to instantly communicate with her inner circle of friends. I wanted to probe inside that circle to ensure her safety—both physically and emotionally. After all, as a parent, it’s my job.
Discretely peering behind the scenes, I wanted to truly understand her highs and lows. I wanted to learn about her romantic horrors, social disappointments, and reckless attitudes and behaviors. My motive was pure and genuine. I wanted to discreetly apply my life’s lessons as best I could. Perhaps my example could prevent her from suffering the same teenage woes that I did.
To gain access to her secret world, I installed key logger software on her computer and instantly learned her Facebook log on and password. I felt empowered. And I felt scared.
After growing the balls that I needed, I sat at my laptop, and pulled up Facebook.com. I carefully keyed in her username and password and fully braced myself for what might appear on her profile page.
I clicked LOG IN.
And there it was, wide open, right in front of me: The other 90% of my teenager’s life.
At first, I felt like I just cracked open a safe with millions of dollars inside. I was ecstatic! Then instant panic set in. I couldn’t look through all the posts on her Facebook wall fast enough. I couldn’t read all her private messages fast enough. Page after page, post after post, I scrambled. But in the end, I finally settled down. By the end of the day, I carefully scrutinized every post, I discreetly studied every picture, and I scrupulously probed every instant message.
After my initial turmoil, stress, and angst, believe it or not, I found nothing terribly horrifying. I was instantly relieved.
However, I did learn a few things that I didn’t expect from my investigation:
- My teenager can’t type worth a damn. I had to re-read a few posts and messages multiple times to understand what she was trying to say.
- My teenager certainly can’t spell worth a damn. I am clueless how she passed English in school.
- My teenager has an excellent understanding of the F-Word. She frequently used it as a noun, a verb, an adverb, and surprisingly, a conjunction. I cringed each time I read it. But at the same time, I literally laughed out loud—remembering how I was when I was her age.
- My teenager has excellent photography skills. Based on the large number of selfies she posted, I’ve seen more variations of her hair style, hair color, duck faces, smiles, and serious poses—all with the bathroom mirror and bathroom wall in the background.
- My teenager has memorized every single word and phrase that’s listed on UrbanDIctionary.com. Clearly, she subscribes to their daily Word of the Day.
- My teenager fully understands the difference between boys and girls.
After it was all over, and even though I found nothing terribly disturbing, I decided to continue randomly logging in to my teenager’s Facebook account. I don’t feel guilty about it. I am not ashamed. I will continue to scrutinize every post, study every picture, and probe every instant message. Some may feel like I’m intruding into her private life—similar to reading the private thoughts in a diary. But in my opinion, Facebook is far different from a diary. Facebook is a clear outline of one’s personal life and their interactions with those who they choose to be close to and confide in.
With the great power of Facebook in such a chaotic world, I will do what I feel is best to protect my child. I will continue to hack away.