Sexting, texting, e-mail, Twitter, MySpace, NetFlix, Facebook, formspring (not a mattress company), “smart” phones, iPads, iPods, laptops, etc. That’s the world our kids live in. And, it’s moving faster everyday! Can we trust our kids with social media?
For me, it was a library card, and a book, on a roller-skate, which my friends and I would use to go down the hill where we lived. Oh, we also played a made-up game we called “Mongoose,” in which we hit a ping pong ball back and forth with two books, the object being to do it as long as possible. We had a phone, but its use was limited. TV was only on weekends. And, there were just three networks and not much else.
That just ain’t the world no more! With the recent spat of texting related violent incidents, I’m beginning to question what boundaries we parents should consider for our kids, especially our teens, with these social media devices. My 16-year-old got into a mess of peer trouble with an impolitic facebook post. It was stupid, but not that big a deal. At my urging, he even publicly apologized (and in a well-written, not too self-deprecating fashion – I was impressed).
Screens, screens, screens. No, not the ones that keep out the flies, but the ones that are ubiquitous in our lives everywhere else. We’ve got video, cell-phone, computer, game, movie theatre, and MP3 player screens (I refuse to call them iPods as I can’t stand iTunes and their monopoly and totalitarian way in which they force you to organize your music…I have no heat on this issue – HA!).
My boys are addicted to them, as with most of their generation. And, my family would argue, I am addicted to my computer and phone screen (for e-mail), to which we finally instituted a limited after dinner policy. One half-hour is all I’m allowed, after dinner, to check and respond to e-mails. Writing and such must be done during “work hours,” whatever those are.
Fair enough, but my boys don’t have these limits other than no TV on school nights. That doesn’t mean no computer time, so really what is the difference? With YouTube, they can watch most anything anyway. With video chat and other options on the web, they’re as addicted to their screens as I may be to mine.
My best friend’s son, his youngest, has been house and teen-sitting for us. He’s 20 now and he’s really grown up in so many ways. It seems the alien pod has left his body and the sane human being his parents raised has returned. Such a relief, as it gives me hope for my two to know that they do grow up!
When he was my teen’s age I remember an incident that really stuck with me, when his family moved. I had offered to help and was horrified at how they allowed and indulged their youngest to basically sit around and do nothing, while we worked tirelessly. He was that self-absorbed.
Potential lessons abound today, as we’re dealing with money crises, the worst of my and my boys’ lives. My boys will gain wisdom from this. So will I. Things often taken for granted will no longer be. I will live the life I preach and take the same, at times, harsh medicine I’m asking them to swallow.
The other day I was helping my younger son set up his computer. He inherited my old one. I looked around his room and realized the extraordinary amount of “things” he possessed and that he’d known no other way of living. There was a TV, DVD player, two or three portable video game devices, an “old” and “new” cell-phone, and more boxed DVD sets than they carry at Blockbuster. And, now, his own computer, albeit a “used” one. Nah, the lessons they’ll learn will serve them well.