Inappropriate Social Media

My Son Is Inappropriate On Social Media, Please Advise?


Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m coming to you because I need some “authority” to help convince my son of his folly. While away at college, he thinks it is OK to mention on public forums (such as Twitter) that he uses drugs. Aside from the fact that this information is most disturbing to his parents, I’ve told him that such information will exclude him from almost every job opportunity. How do I show that being inappropriate on social media is detrimental to his career, and how do I put weight behind my argument? – Concerned Mom

J.T.: Young people today love social media and use them to impress their peers. Anticipating the need to impress employers is not yet a concern for them, and I doubt your son would be swayed by the opinions of newspaper columnists. However, do a quick online search about college students getting in trouble for what they post online, and you’ll find plenty of articles to pass along to him, and maybe, over time, he will start to be more cautious.

DALE: There’s a little, inexpensive Kindle book by Peter K. England about dealing with a headstrong teen that has the provocative title “What Do You Say When Your Daughter Says ‘F**K YOU!’?” The logic of that book fits what J.T. is recommending: You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn, but with patience you may entice your son to educate himself. In addition to articles about students getting in trouble, you might bring the issue home to him by having a discussion about places he’d love to work. For instance, if he considers working for Apple to be a dream job, you can go online and find their drug policy …

“Apple is a drug-free workplace. Employees are prohibited from manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, using, or being under the influence of illegal drugs, inhalants, or controlled substances in the workplace. Any employee who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Reading such policies, he might understand that good companies can be choosy about employees and that many check job applicants’ online histories. Will this strategy work? Probably not, but one of the lessons of England’s book is that there’s patience and peace in knowing that you’ve done your part and more.

© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale at or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

J.T. & Dale

“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.


  1. He most likely will have to hear it from an objective professional before he listens, so try a job/career coach in his area of passion and interest to work with him each semester. Dont wait until senior year. That professional will have a checklist and on that list will be cleaning up twitter and facebook. But more importNt point…. How is he able to afford drugs? Cut back on any extra money you give him and let him fend for himself. Every once in a while be sure to use his room at home for other stuff and mention it to him casually so he doesn’t get the sense he will be moving back in when college is over. Push a few realities of post college life onto him a little at a time in advance of graduation. If that fails, you can always find a really hot girlfriend for him who has a great job and no tolerance for drugs.

  2. I say “pat him on the head for being honest.” What, you didn’t think college students suddenly abandoned time-steeped academic tradition of trying every (un)controlled substance they could lay hands on? Our time of youth is also our time of exploration and experimentation, and while you probably can’t stop it, you could add some positive influence, possibly drawing on your own college experiences. Make sure to make a donation to the school, earmarked “alcohol education/stomach pump fees” in his name. text him back, tell him to watch out for bad mushrooms going around campus, and the long-term effects of LSD, and the perils of drinking with strangers, so he doesn’t get a roofie-beer and wake up naked in bed with some strange man.

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