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Aussie mom infiltrates the teenage world of Facebook

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Parents are known snoopers once kids hit their teenage years. They crave information, so they peek at diaries and glance down at smart-phone screens. But while it's one thing to want to know what your kids are up to, it's a whole other thing to fake your way into the teenage online world.

The Hearld Sun reports that a 42-year-old Australian mom of two, Nathalie Brown, assumed the identity of Jessica Taylor, a 14-year-old persona she conjured up, to explore what it is like to be a teen on Facebook.

And apparently it's a place full of hormones, insults and bullying. (Surprise, surprise – sounds like high school, no?)

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"With just a few clicks, she found a page where a 15-year-old girl was being trashed by a 16-year-old boy as a 'drunk slut' after she wrote that he tried to rape her," reports the Herald Sun.

Ms. Brown also found pages that scored other teen's sexual abilities in graphic detail. Comments about skipping class and the posting of pornographic videos also shocked the mother, who has a 15-year-old daughter.

"Children still don't realize Facebook is like putting something on a billboard on a bus, and it's always traceable," she told the paper.

The story doesn't provide any clues on what Ms. Brown's daughter thought of her mom's social-media experiment, but at least one cybersafety expert is up in arms.

"It's wrong in the extreme," Susan McLean said of Ms. Brown's behaviour. "She has no right to do this. Facebook would take a very dim view of this."

At least Ms. Brown wasn't spying on her daughter. A 2010 survey of 1,000 parents found that 10 per cent of them admit to logging onto their kids' Facebook account so they can snoop around. A smaller number than you expected? The number balloons to 85 per cent when parents were asked if they peruse the profile from their own account.

So yeah, Big Brother is watching, expect it's more like Big Mother.

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How do you feel about the results of Ms. Brown's "experiment"? Do you think parents should snoop about their teenager's social media activities?

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About the Author

Madeleine White is an online editor and reporter for The Globe and Mail. More

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