In her book, It’s Complicated, Danah Boyd essentially sums up the problem of privacy on social media in a single sentence: “What’s at stake is not whether someone can listen in but whether one should” (Boyd, 58). Some will claim that since teenagers overshare on social media, they forfeit their privacy because they post everything to the world. But public expression does not necessarily equate to the rejection of privacy. For many teenagers, social media is a platform for self-expression and growth. Should adults, particularly those in authoritative positions such as parents and teachers, invade these spaces, teenagers will not be able to express themselves in the same way.
When I got my first social media account, my mom and I had a deal. I would give her my password and in return she would not use it unless I gave her a reason to. It was all about trust. I trusted my mom not to regularly spy on my Instagram account, and she trusted me not to post anything inappropriate. If I had found her logged into my Instagram on a random day for no apparent reason, I would have been offended. To me, that would signify that she didn’t trust me. Going back to Boyd’s statement, it wouldn’t have been a matter of whether my mom could access my Instagram, but whether she should. Unless she had a solid reason to suspect that my posts were inappropriate, logging on to my Instagram would be a violation of trust.
Parents will argue that they have to monitor their children’s online activity in order to protect them. Our society confirms this argument often, going so far as to imply that parents who don’t monitor their children’s online activity are “bad parents.” However, often children aren’t actually doing anything that should be a cause of concern to parents, and moreover, the parents are effectively disassembling any mutual trust that existed between them and their children.