My parents worried about unidentified white vans with no windows, and teaching us how to be considerate and compassionate. We dealt with bullies, sure, but face to face. We begged our parents for CDs and movies and books, all which seem to be heading toward total digitalization (which MUST be a word, because there are no little red squiggles under it. There are squiggles under iPad, iPhone, and texted. Ironic?). I distinctly remember recording a "radio show" using a tape and my boombox's record function.
We were taught that the world was big, and could be dangerous if we weren't careful. I'm sure that is no different than what parents teach their children now. Except for one (SCARY) fact: we now have ACCESS to the entire world, and the world has access to US. Yes, it is exciting and provides wonderful learning opportunities that were rare when I was a child. Yes, we can find absolutely anything we want, and we can put our words and thoughts and images out there for anyone to see. That's the scary part.
I know something now that I didn't understand as a child... not everyone is like ME. I am an honest, loving, caring, and decent person. There are people out there that are not, and they are real. And they can and will hurt you if given the opportunity. The words, pictures, and videos we post on the Internet will be there forever. When you're 30 and married, or 50 and becoming an empty nester, or even 80 and enjoying retirement, your Facebook posts and YouTube videos will be circulating (I'm scaring myself, here). This means that anyone, good OR bad can see them. They can track you down by just your username!
What's frustrating is the attitude that children get when discussions about this topic comes up. It seems that no matter what you say and how you say it, the "I'm invincible" shield comes up and their eyes glaze over. How do we educate our children about the consequences of their online actions? Especially when we aren't quite sure which situation they may encounter? How do we make it REAL?
These are the questions I am struggling with as I try to come up with a plan on how to protect my son when the time comes. Blanket parenting does not exactly apply in these situations (A bully can always create a new profile or e-mail account when blocked, even if you delete a picture or video, someone may have already saved it, etc.). We have already moved out of the factory and manufacturing age, and are deep into the technological era. It behooves us to learn and be involved so that the next generation can not only thrive, but advance. I'm anxious to see how this all pans out, and what it means for our children and their families.
How do YOU talk to your children about the Internet? What are your concerns with posting things on Facebook and YouTube? I would love to hear your thoughts, dear readers!
The Hot Mama