Raising Adolescents . . . This Ain’t Your Mother’s Childhood

Raising kids in this day and age is absolutely terrifying to me. Then again, I suppose parents have been saying this for generations.

Do you think that parents 300 years ago were saying the same things we are today?

Kids these days are so lazy!

The world just keeps getting smaller.

It’s just not as safe as it used to be.

It’s a whole new world out there!

I don’t know, but I feel like technology is moving at warp speed and I’m drowning in the sea of parenthood over here.

The latest fad in the adolescent set is video chat.

When my son first came home and wanted us to set him up with an account so he could video chat with his friends, my husband and I were vehemently opposed. But after we thought about it a bit, we relented. We set time limits. We already don’t allow them to take computers to their rooms, but we reiterated that criteria. And then we decided to see how it went.

So far, so good.

It was weird, at first, but then I realized that when I was 12, I was in my room talking on the phone to friends. At least on video chat, he is in the main part of the house, and we can hear and see what he’s talking about.

In fact, sometimes I will overhear him say, “Oh hi, Mrs. —-” to his friend’s mom who just happened to walk by the computer. It’s kind of cute.

He’s not on Facebook yet, but that’s coming. When he turns 13, I will let him open an account. This is a whole new world to me too. I am already “friends” with some of his friends on Facebook. It kind of cracks me up when I get those friend requests, but I figure, why not?

Sometimes they will respond to something I put out there. I’m sure there will come a time when they are “too cool” for that, but for now I’ll take it.

I’m still undecided as to what restrictions we will put into place when our kids start to open Facebook pages. I know some parents require their kids to friend them on Facebook, but of course they can restrict what we see. Fortunately I’m pretty social media savvy so hopefully I can keep an eye on things. But then again, I don’t want to violate their privacy either.

In some ways, with texting and Facebook, I think parents are actually MORE in tune to their kids these days and more aware of what they are up to. It seems like my friends with older kids are texting with them constantly — almost to the point that I think it’s a little bit weird. I never called to chat with my mom when I was hanging out with friends or at an after-school activity.

At the end of the day, the fact remains, information these days is much more public and much more permanent than it was when I was growing up.

How do I impress upon my kids the magnitude of the Internet?

When I was young, if I made a stupid mistake, it was quickly forgotten. These days, a simple mistake is broadcast on YouTube and Facebook for the entire world to see, and it lasts FOR-EV-ER.

It terrifies me.

But I guess all I can do is what every parent has done in every generation before me . . . teach them the best that I can, and then trust them to use wisdom and judgement, and pray that when they don’t, the consequences won’t be too terribly grim.

Those of you with older kids, what are your social media “policies”? How are you navigating the muddy waters of parenting in this digital age? Should I be very afraid?