I thought about how I would be different, correcting the personal flaws that had gotten me in trouble in the past. I thought about what types of friends I would try to make, and which ones I would stay clear of. I thought about what I would wear, leaving my cheerleading skirt behind to try to create a more mature look. No one in college would know about how I'd been bullied by the "mean girls"; no one in college would know about the nickname (still too horrible to reveal) that haunted me for years. It was going to be a new and improved me!
I was talking with a mom this summer about her son, who was getting ready to go off to a small Christian college. She was worried that his Facebook account "wasn't very Christian" and wondered how others at the college might perceive him. She wanted him to clean up the pictures and language, but her son rolled his eyes and gave her that "OH, MOM, you're totally overreacting" look. I couldn't help but giggle -- this was not the first time I had heard a story like that. So I offered her a different perspective.
To me, it's not about cleaning up the pictures and language. (Let's be real here: Most kids have things on their FB pages that their parents don't love but their friends barely notice.) No, it's more about cleaning house. Going off to college is a rite of passage, and much of it has to do with starting fresh. But how can our kids do that if they take ALL of their old baggage along for the ride? With Facebook, our kids are taking every FB friend, every past interaction and every documented moment to college, too.
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If it were me, I would shut down my high-school Facebook page and create a new one, changing my profile to reflect a more mature me and bringing over only my closest friends (the ones I really want with me on the new journey). No need to "unfriend" anyone; just deactivate and start again. Doing this is not about being rude or meanspirited, it's just about growing up!
Don't our kids deserve the same clean slate we got? It's possible: All they have to do is choose to make the break in the cyberworld, too.