Social media stores everything. It’s not just the latest events in a person’s life that splash their way across those pages; instead, it’s page after page of information that allows viewers to look as far back as they’d like. Middle school drama? Check. High school angst? It’s all on display. Unfortunately, that readily available information can quickly suck people into social media creeping–and that can be a serious problem.
It Starts Innocently
As The Odyssey notes in “The Four Stages of Social Media Creeping,” most social media creeping episodes begin innocently. No one sets out to say, “All right, I’m going to spend four hours scrolling through past social media posts this week!” There are several situations that can lead to inadvertent creeping:
- Reconnecting with an old friend, often locating them on social media for the first time, and trying to “catch up” on all those important events in their life.
- Checking out a new friend or potential romantic interest and trying to learn more about their likes, dislikes, pet peeves, and personality.
- Looking for more information about a friend who is acting out of character or who the “creeper” hasn’t had a chance to connect with recently.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before creeping becomes less innocent. A quick look over recent events turns into hours spent scrolling the friend’s Facebook timeline. Instead of simply looking through the pictures of a single event, the individual finds themselves digging back through albums spanning the past several months or years.
When It’s Less Innocent
Social media creeping doesn’t always have to start innocently. In many cases, it starts with a romantic relationship gone wrong. Suddenly, instead of moving on, the “creeper” begins to obsess over both current and past social media posts. Every picture or mention of a friend of the opposite sex becomes something they can obsess over. In other cases, a current romantic interest becomes the target of creeping, often to the point of obsessive behavior.
Monitoring Obsessive Behaviors in Your Teens
It’s always important to keep an eye on your teen or tween’s social media usage. It’s even more vital, however, if they’re starting to engage in creeping behavior. Watch for these signs:
- Spending more time than usual on social media accounts
- Obsessing over past events
- Over-analyzing social media posts, especially if you find it’s coming up frequently in conversation
If your child is starting to obsess over a friend’s social media account, take steps quickly! The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to break the habit. Tweens and teens are often prone to obsessive behavior anyway, and social media makes it easier than ever for them to keep an eye on past romantic relationships, current friends, and anyone else inside their social circle.
Breaking the Cycle
If your child has taken creeping too far, here are a few useful tips for helping them break the cycle. First, it’s important to make sure that your teen understands the full extent of the behavior. Have them take a look at the time they’ve really spent creeping that social media profile. How many hours have they lost looking at things that don’t have any real relevance to their current position? Next, ask your teen to come up with solutions. Unfollowing, unfriending, or blocking a friend they’ve been creeping may be very difficult for them, but it might also be the only way to separate themselves from the behavior. If the behavior goes too far, it may be necessary to temporarily disable the social media accounts that are creating the problem.
Keeping up with your teen or tween’s internet usage is difficult enough without factoring creeping into the equation. Creeping, however, is rarely healthy behavior. Taking steps to get your child out of that cycle before it has a chance to go deeper is the best way to help them go on to enjoy healthy relationships in the future as well as healing from a current breakup or other situation. Sometimes the solution is simply finding balance! A trustworthy parental control that prides itself in not being easily defeatable by even the most tech-savvy teens is Netsanity. They offer a suite of services for parents. For instance, their appblocker is a must have. With one-click, you can block more than 50 previously profiled, internet-based apps that you find inappropriate and even the ones that you feel your tween or teen just needs to take a healthy break from.
They have a 14-day free trial, so it’s worth checking out if your kids have Apple or the Samsung family of smart devices.