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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Editorial: Tufts parents should beware of Facebook

Life on the Hill is pretty good, even though some online rants say otherwise.

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The Facebook logo is pictured.

Dear parents and families,

Welcome to the Hill!

For some of you, this may be the first time seeing campus without the hustle and bustle of move-in day or the careful staging of a guided college tour. Parents and Family Weekend is special because you get to experience the true college life — except, perhaps, for the fraternity parties and coffee-fueled all-nighters.

Your being here is also an opportunity to reflect upon the difference between the ‘real’ Tufts and the Tufts portrayed on social media. Life on the Hill is pretty good for most of us, despite what some online rants might say.

And yes, we’re referring to you, Tufts Parents and Families Facebook page.

That’s right: even though we’re not active members of the Facebook group, somehow the stories always trickle their way down to us. Remember, Facebook is a public forum, and no matter how anxious you are to help your kid out, you could be revealing intimate details about their life by posting a plea for help. While your intentions may be good, trust us: The last thing your child needs to hear is that every parent at Tufts knows they’re lonely.

Each one of us has had a college rough patch; in fact, it’s probably a rite of passage. Some of us struggle more than others, whether it’s dealing with a particularly messy roommate or grappling with a seemingly impossible coding assignment.

Watching your kid go through these challenges must feel scary, and it’s tempting to intervene. While we’re not necessarily opposed to your doing so — every kid overcomes their own hurdles differently — we do have one piece of advice: Be wary of Facebook, and think before you post.

Facebook is,unfortunately, not a wishing well. While it would be great for every request for a room change to be granted or a community of close friends to magically materialize, parents’ Facebook groups are detached from students’ everyday lives.

In fact, the only times students even see Facebook posts are when oversharing parents reveal a bit too much about their kids. As a parent, even when you go to lengths to conceal your child’s identity, by virtue of posting, people can figure out who you’re posting about. In these instances, even the best-intentioned pleas for friendship have backhanded effects on your child. The reality is, your kid is an adult now, and posting about their life can be a serious invasion of their privacy.

Some of the issues parents bring up are valid, and the experiences of their kids are often serious. While starting college and taking on a whole new community of friends and neighbors, loneliness can be a challenge. Your child may be facing mental health struggles that can and should be addressed.

College is one never-ending transition with unique trials and tribulations each year. Many of our parents and families have experienced this firsthand, and perhaps you remember the eventual sense of achievement and independence that comes with overcoming challenges on your own and learning more about yourself in the process.

Although the instinctual urge for a parent to step in on their child’s behalf is admirable and understandable, the best way out in college is usually through. Sure, there are times when we’d love to have a helicopter parent swoop in to save the day — but most of the time, tackling our problems head-on is the best way for us to grow into well-adjusted adults.

All of this is to say that there’s more than one way to be a supportive family member. Sometimes, when we need to complain about our impassive professor or our dingy dorm room (we’re looking at you, Metcalf), venting over the phone makes all the difference. Sometimes we just need someone to empathize with us, even if they can’t step in to help.

Of course, you know your child better than anyone. Trust your intuition about how to best support your child and about when and how to take action. All we ask is that before you do something drastic, like posting a lengthy tirade on your favorite social platform, consider whether the situation really necessitates parental involvement. Most of the time, we’re willing to bet that your loved one really just needs a sounding board to complain to.

Some of the stories you read on Facebook make it seem like it’s the end of the world here at Tufts, but we promise that everything is fine — and if things aren’t fine, we’ll be the first to let you know. So, to our loving, well-intentioned, extremely online parents and families: Thank you for being there for us, and for thinking before you press “send” on your next Facebook rant.