Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Chillax (04/03/14)
TITLE: Teenagers, Apps and Websites: What's A Mom To Do
By Taryn Deets
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“What does this app do?
“Well, it…” she tries to explain.
As mom to three teenagers, and two more rising to that exalted title next year, I have an overwhelming responsibility to wade through and properly educate myself on which sites or apps are ok for my children to peruse. As teenagers in the 80’s, my husband and I have no example of how to raise our children to be savvy in their usage of the new explosion of apps that are out there on the internet and accessible to any teenager and through wifi almost anywhere they go.
When talking to our kids about sex, we can fall back on our parents example (and even lack thereof) as to how we teach our children about this topic. We can teach them the dangers of taking drugs, smoking or abusing alcohol, because there are numerous examples of ruined lives to illustrate our point. Our kids are learning to use this technology faster than we are and this can be problematic at best, and downright harmful if we choose to let them have more control in this area than they are really ready for.
My kids are flabbergasted when I tell them I didn’t have a cell phone (nor did my parent) in high school, and that those few who did had the models that were about the size of a football. They can’t comprehend a world where no one has a personal computer at their disposal every day. They can’t imagine the amount of space a super computer could take up when they were first invented.
“…lets me send pictures to my friends, and we can comment on each other’s photos. Chillax, Mom, there’s nothing bad!”
“It means Chill and relax all together, don’t you know that, Mom?”
And I have to confess, “Well, now I do.”
“Mom, why can’t I get a Facebook account? I’m sixteen!” my son demands.
“We need to have a conversation about what you should post on Facebook and what you should not post before I’m ready for you to have that privilege.”
“Mom, can I get an I-Phone? I’ll save up the money myself,” my third teenager asks.
Knowing it will take her at least two years, and perhaps longer, I reply, “By the time you can afford to buy one, we’ll talk about it.
But as I think about these conversations with my three teenagers, having done some preliminary research, I realize that I cannot just let them have unlimited access to whatever technology they want to use, but can teach them to be smart on the sights and in using the apps that I do think are appropriate along with some proper guidance.
So, driving in the car after a discussion about another app that many of my teenager’s friends are using, I start the conversation we need to begin on this subject, “Do you realize that anything you post on the internet, any picture, any quote, will be out there for anyone to see and read in the future?”
I let this sink in for a minute, and then, “Do you know that because you can post any picture on the internet, it is possible that you could talk to someone in a chat room and they might not really be who you think they are?”
There is so much more I need to teach them, but for today this is enough. We will keep the conversation ongoing, but for now I must get back to figuring out how to use this new tablet so I can continue my research.
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