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.