Brave New World

We’ve always been pretty conservative about the kids and the computer.  The older boys, however, are old enough to have facebook accounts (with the stipulation that “mom” be their friend).  I check our histories and all that stuff on a regular basis. 
Honestly, we’ve had no significant problems.  But … how in the world to instill in the kids that every single thing they post online is there forever?  If you’re 16, you have no concept of being 26 or 36 or rilly, rilly old and really needing a job.  Who wants to be haunted by the stoopid things they thought were funny or interesting or important when they were teens?  For instance, tonight, I jumped on Danny for a Facebook post where he “liked” an opinion I found exceptionally vulgar and ugly.  His response was to unfriend me.  Once unfriended, I explained that he must be my friend or lose the computer.   Yes, technically, Dan’s an adult, but until he’s paying his own way, house rules win. We’re friends again.  But … There’s nothing to stop him from making a new account with a new email.  I know this.  He knows I know this. 
For now, there’s nothing any of the boys are doing that is awful or worrisome, but still – the long term ramifications of what they do/say/publish online are frightening.  Back in the 80’s we could do stoopid stuff and it remained within a small group of people and the horrification soon ended – heck, sometimes it never happened because the person with the camera lost the film or never developed it.  In the 10’s, does it ever end?  It’s all there.  It’s all instant.  It’s all permanent. 
My heart broke today when I read about a Rutgers freshman who killed himself after his roommate used a Webcam to invade his privacy and send live broadcasts of his encounters.  I’m so sad for this young man’s family and friends.  I’m also sad for the two imbeciles who thought this was a good idea.  Their lives, too, will be changed forever.  They are learning a hard, hard lesson about being young and stoopid and mean. 
You guys with older kids already know we live in a Brave New World.  Those of you with younger kids, here’s a heads up!  To most of us here (you all reading right now), the internet is a thing of marvel – we grew up with 4 channels and rotary phones.  For our kids, it’s simple life.  (Andy spent more time moping about having to use an actual dictionary today than it took for him to use the stoopid thing!)  They accept instant access to people they’ll never meet, to ideas that would never have occurred to them and to language they could never, ever use at home. 
It’s a fine line in the sand, I guess.  What are your thoughts?  I’m really interested in what you all think on this subject.

8 thoughts on “Brave New World

  1. I am my kids friends on FB as well. I am amazed at what I read some of their friends posting.

    Like you my heart breaks for the family of the young student. I hope the 2 idiots serve some time..

    For my kids part of living on a tiny base in Japan means they are under a microscope. If something happens we will hear (and have heard) “well your dad is X rank” We expect more of you! I sometimes worry that keeping my kids so sheltered is a bad thing.. Then I read about things like a 13 year old boy who killed himself because his classmates were teasing him and bullying him..

    I have often thought about shutting off the internet (not for real *GASP*) for maybe a week or so.. Just so my kids can do other things like oh, maybe talk to each other more..

  2. I bring up every article I come across about stupid posting biting kids in the butt. I bring up every time I hear about impulsive posts or phone shots of cleavage end up causing trouble for some kid. I try as best I can to make it very, very clear that if you write it, everyone can read it. And if you don't want your grandma to read/see it, don't post it. And then I hope for the best.

  3. My kids are adults now but had the internet since they were pretty young. We gave them pretty much open access to the internet although the computer was in our home office. So was a couch. So Mom was on the couch.

    My daughter learned the lesson that what you type on the computer in IM can actually be copied and pasted into an email and sent to anyone. Luckily she was maybe 14 and it wasn't anything serious, but still, hard lesson to learn.

    When my daughter was getting ready to graduate from FSU back in 2006 she cleaned up her Facebook page. No more stupid group memberships. She learned the lesson, thankfully.

    My son doesn't see the point of FB so has no account.

    My daughter is expecting her first child now so this is something that she and her husband will have to deal with in the future. I wish them luck!

  4. I am on my kids' FB friends list as well. My kids get irritated when they see THEIR friends on MY list. I've explained to them that I'm not the one friend requesting their friends, their FRIENDS do it! So, I can't be ALL bad! I've tried to explain to them the whole “it's gonna follow you forever” thing, but I don't think it sinks in. I've made them delete some of their friends because of what those people have said or “liked”. (Please tell me why it's OK for the police chief's step-son to “like” *exual assault!) There is a boy in our town who is in legal trouble because of things he said on FB, and I'm hoping that knowing about that situation will encourage my kids to realize I'm not making this stuff up!

  5. I worry I will end up filling their teen years with too much knowledge of the awful that goes on but I weigh that against the need to be able to protect yourself from other peoples stoopid.

    At the moment my biggest fear is cell phones. And my sister and I have actively talked about how to score out the damned camera and turn off picture messaging to her teenager.

    Thankfully here were still at no cell phones for children and only one computer is accessible under supervision.

  6. So right, Amy.

    Several years ago, the coach for one of my nephews sat the team down to tell them to be really really careful what they said and what photos they posted on myspace, facebook, etc. Coach knew that college recruiters and coaches had started checking those sites out before offering scholarships. Same goes for employers.

    Heartbreaking for that young man and his family.

    Mine aren't quite old enough for this yet. Some days I feel like such a prude and then there's news like this that reaffirms a bit of protectiveness.

  7. I posted a comment about 10 years ago on a scuba website about my favorite dive site. Totally appropriate, nothing shameful or anything but if I google my name and it still comes up….

    The internet is forever…

  8. Ugh. This stuff scares me more than a lot of other things. If someone posted on FB or YouTube some of the dumb*ss things I did as a kid…it makes me break out in goose bumps just thinking about it.
    We're going the route of “the internet is forever” and trying to focus on being kind and respectful to others and trying not to put yourself in a compromising position. Mine's only nine though, so I have many more years to muddle through this.
    One a side note, I nominated/awarded you with a Cherry on Top award on my mostly ignored blog. 🙂 Just so you're aware.

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