Monday, September 5, 2011
Kids and Technology
My oldest has had a facebook page and cell phone I’m okay with that. Most of her friends also have facebook pages and phones there is a lot of communication going on via FB and texting these days and if used safely and monitored regularly it is fine. She mainly plays games and chats with friends from school and some other friends from cities we used to live in who she no longer gets to see on a regular basis. Granted if I could have bought her a phone that had no camera I would have gone that way – but the only phones with no cameras these days are military spec phone and incredibly expensive – go figure.
While she has a FB page, I have her password, and I set her privacy settings, I have veto power over anything on her profile and when necessary I have changed things, taken things down and even changed her password. I can do that because while it is her page she knows my husband and I have ultimate say on what she can do regarding it. (See This is not a Democracy - )
So, I guess with all of the information out there on what to not let your kids do and say and post online,information on being a vigilant parent regarding social media etc. I’m amazed when I see some of the updates from her friends and other younger FB members. I’m generally astounded that other parents are okay with some of the stuff that their kids are putting out there for the whole world to see. And I wonder if their parents even check to see what their kids are up to. I see things that immediately cause a red flag to go up in my mind and sometimes I would like someone to explain to me how some of this stuff is okay. Kids that aren't even my FB "friend" have wide open profiles and I see rude and insulting comments, I see inappropriate photos, I see out of line messages on the photos and I also know that these kids are under 18 years old and someone should be monitoring their behavior.
I believe that kids need to learn how to use technology and social media in a responsible way since it is so much a part of our lives. The level of instant communication and multitude ways they are constantly in electronic contact with many people are both wonderful and incredibly scary at the same time. For example, the good: when my daughter wiped out on her bike last week she could call me within seconds and I could come get her and her bike from where she fell – and the bad: so many stories of facebook stalkers, cyber bullying, creepers checking out images of kids online, sexting and the plethora of information on protecting identities on line.
I work hard to teach her that it’s always best to err on the side of caution when posting messages, status updates and especially photos online. I’m not especially naïve or particularly prudish regarding things online or in life (and those of you who have known me for decades can probably attest to that) but I am quite protective of the images and profiles of my children online which is why you don’t see their photos on this blog. I pick and choose carefully which photos are online on my facebook page and I have “veto power” over what my daughter posts on her facebook page. Security settings are locked down quite tight and I like it that way.
I have to remember that a middle schooler/high schooler idea of watching what they post may be very different than mine and as a parent I need to be vigilant and remind them that what is posted is a reflection to the world of how the kid sees themselves and wants to be seen - and with my own kids my job is to teach them to only put their best forward – it is also not just how she is posting as a middle schooler, but how she will present herself as she gets older and the example that she sets for her sisters and others in her life. It is something that it is better she learns now rather than learning the hard way down the line while on a job interview or in worse ways.
I realize that teens think that they are incredibly smart and quite invincible but I also believe that their parents ought to know better. So go online, get your kids password, lock your kids profile down, don't let just anyone in the world have access to their information, take their phone numbers and e-mail address off of their info page. Let them know what is okay to put out there for the whole world and what is not. Teach them to make wise and good decisions. It's not easy - but parenting is a pretty tough job.
Oh, and if you see they're posting at 2:00 a.m. on a school night - take their access to social media away for a while.