Monday, July 2, 2012

Correcting and Self-Correcting

Last week I posted an article from The Guardian which claimed that students on spring break seemed to be behaving better because of the prevalence of the big brother of the fellow party goer with a smart phone.

"Knowing that any outrageous exploits will probably end up on Facebook or Twitter means today's partygoing teens are cleaning up their act, says Rachelle Thompson." 

This was, in fact, the second time I read about this last week. The other was an article about about parental monitoring software, which discussed how much parents should be involved in their teen's on-line presence in the Times. In that article, a teen reported a positive reaction to parental monitoring.

"The older daughter, Alexis, said that for now, at least, she does not mind the monitoring. She feels safer for it, she says, “like I’m being watched over.”
She also knows that it affects what she posts for public consumption. Recently, for example, she was tempted to rail on Facebook against a friend who had spread rumors about her, but she checked herself when she thought about what her mother might say. “Having your parents monitor makes you think twice about what you put,” Alexis said."

As is often the case for me, when things come together, there was a third element which lead to this post. A friend and I were talking this weekend about an uncle of hers (by marriage) that we knew as a child. He was a little inappropriate... (think sex drugs and rock and roll) "who let us around him?" I asked, off the cuff. After some thought, and an apology from me, she said, "well, I bet you were alone around him a lot more than I was. I was always around my family." This was an interesting thought -- followed by a reaction mocking my first "who left me alone all the time when I was a kid!" I was, in fact, very often left to fend for myself -- and often enough this put me in the proximity of the inappropriate... though I was a scared girl, and not inclined either to seeking difficulty or to acting out.

So -- all of these things are on my mind as I firm up the belief that we need to treat our parenting in the realm of the internet the same as we treat our parenting elsewhere -- and our kids will respond as they do everywhere else. Our kids want to be held -- the need to feel safe. Feeling that they are not entirely the masters of their own fate is the only way for them to feel that they have the room to stretch and test the boundaries...

I wonder all the time what it will be like for them as they grow up in a world where privacy is nothing like what it was like for their parents. What will become of them as they become grown ups. We already don't live in the same world that they do. We already don't understand what they are understanding about being watched. 

The reaction of the kids in these articles gives me a sense that society is already self-correcting, and that the rules of engagement can take on a new sense of responsibility and maturity even as our kids travel through the vulnerable decade between child and adult.

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