If there's anything I've learned from popular television programs that feature surly adolescents going, "MOOOOOM, STOOPPPP!!!", it's that teens are ungrateful little shits. Out of your own body, you expunge a beautiful, tiny infant; it grows into a glorious and sweet child; then it hunches its way through puberty and quickly turns on you like a little snake in the grass who also needs you to drive it to Panera Bread.
So how are you to keep the Surly Teen from retreating into its room and going on its Cheeto-besmeared laptop to keep in touch with its fellow teens over popular social media websites all the while communicating with its family members exclusively in monosyllables? Well, according to the wrongest study ever, you should just friend your teen! Friend your teen on all things! Because if anything will bring you closer with your brood, it's joining the throngs of friends and acquaintances with whom she unthinkingly shares a Blingee of herself doing Whip Its in the back of a Jeep.
According to the study's lead author, Dr. Sarah Coyne of Brigham Young University, parents should not shy away from connecting virtually with their offspring because it allegedly helps teens feel closer to their progenitors in real life. "You can do a lot on social networking sites. Your kid might post a picture, and you might show support by liking it or making a nice comment, or a status update that does the same kind of thing," she claims. "It gives more opportunities to give positive feedback or show affection."
For instance, if your teen posts, "at the mall, hit me uppppp," you can make a status of your own: "Driving my beautiful teen to the mall and then milling around a pretzel stand for an hour and a half until my (very fashionable and brilliant) teen is done shopping." You can like every single one of their statuses about youthful pop sensations to encourage their interest in the arts. If your teen posts, "i think im still drunk from last night lol", you can comment "Disappointed but still love you :/". The two of you will quickly become thick as thieves, trading likes and statuses in a wonderful economy of affection.
The study claims that there are huge benefits to this sort of behavior:
A survey of nearly 500 families also showed that teenagers who interact with their parents on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are kinder, more generous, and are more helpful towards other people.
Eh, this is kind of specious, though — teenagers who interact with their parents on Facebook are probably saints, or nerds, or some divine mix of the two. As an ex-teen, I can confirm that a high schooler's online existence is a perilous and exhilarating journey, the narrative of which is as follows: "I hope all my peers see that chill and awesome picture of me drinking out of a red cup in a basement. I hope that neither my parents nor my college admissions officers see that chill and awesome picture of me drinking out a red cup in a basement." (This fear is not even conquered by the "Limited Profile" option.) Facebook is meant to be an adolescent refuge, a sacred place in which the only source of judgment is one's merciless and cold-hearted coevals.
Therefore, teens who joyously interact with their parents on Facebook cannot be held to the same standards as the rest of us. They are ontologically superior to their classmates and peers. They have no earthly attachments. I am sure that they're kinder, more generous, and more helpful towards other people. They would not have chosen the "accept friend request" option if they were spiritually comprised of the same muck as my 15-year-old self.
In other words, reaching out to your kids on the 'Net probably won't work. The vast majority of non-saint teens will most definitely think you are SO EMBARRASSING and RANDOM if you friend request them, ugh, mooooommmm, get out of my room!!
Image via auremar/Shutterstock.