Saturday, September 17, 2011


Some of your dear friends, even peers with whom you're chatting about LIFE, are probably kids.

Consumer Reports, [June], said 7.5 million Facebook users are younger than 13 -- five million are 10 or younger. (FB says users must be 13 or older, but as you know, a birth year can be fixed.)

Actually, you're already sharing things with people you never met. Still, "likes, bulletins, Tweets, latest news from kids -- doesn't it sort of reduce the feeling that you've communicated, and shared things with friends?

Want to get rules passed and make sure kids will be banished from Facebook? From Twitter? From wherever you're chatting, browsing, exchanging ideas? I'm not sure it can be done.

Kids find ways to do whatever they really want to do. Yes, as a parent, or employer, you can find out where they hang out, who their friends are, do they have "bad" habits -- drugs, booze, smoking? Do they sniff illegal substances, have sexual doings with friends, or themselves? Do they steal, shoplift, borrow money -- are they involved with anything evil? There are many perilous places on the internet that anybody can access -- dangerous, even deadly activities.

Oh yes, you can protect the kids -- with rules, drug tests, advice from sociologists, psychoanalysts, pills for depression, attention deficit disorders and allergies. You can supervise, say stop, mustn't do that, that's wrong, that's bad. You can check, guard, make rules, put up fences, gates, walls.

You can enforce all your no-no-no admonitions.

That's why I'm writing this post.. I think no-no admonitions are producing anger in children, and more rebellion, and deeper, uglier, killer-kill-'em-feelings. inspiring all sorts of creative ways to circumvent what their elders want.

I think -- instead of "no" say YES.
Make "stop" into START,
Turn "don't" into DO.

Starting someone's mind -- not stopping it, thwarting it --but encouraging action is much easier. You can promote recreations, activities, things to do. Including browsing, social networking stuff and other Internet things that interest YOU, while educating yourself on how to educate the kid.

How much time do YOU spend social networking -- messaging, chatting, absorbing weird, amusing, sometimes just plain boring bla bla on the Internet?

Kids are THERE -- they're already opening your mind, probably, even though you don't realize they're kids. Remember, what's old for you and me, is not old for them, and new ideas, new things are cooking and brewing in their lives.

Try a YES. Challenging kids might challenge you. Aren't there new worlds for you to conquer?


Anonymous said...

Dear Emily-I have facebook friends that are my daughter's friends and encourage any one younger than me(and that's alot) to interact with people and enjoy life. When my children were in high school and college they had their own computers, emails, internet, friends. I am happy when they still email me or message or chat with me on facebook...I feel connected as a mom. I play facebook poker and there are teenage kids on there I think but never had any problems with them-just enjoying a fun card game! kam Kathleen Ann McGee

Carl Watts said...

I agree with you message except I'm 100% against drugging children. Drugging anyone for depression is wrong. Drugging for made up psychiatric ills is criminal. So could you please remove "psychoanalysts, pills for depression, attention deficit disorders" then I can promote this article.

PragmaticMom said...

I think that it's ok to have kids online but my pediatrician stressed (just yesterday in fact) online safety. NEVER GIVE YOUR REAL NAME OR HOME ADDRESS! Involve a parent if you feel uncomfortable with what is happening online.

I am ok with talking to kids online. I blog on KidLit, education and parenting and I welcome their opinions and dialogue. Just don't tell me where you live!

JanetG. said...

I really loved this piece, Emily. So many good and constructive thoughts. I have 3 children who I try to educate on the wonderful as well as dangerous parts of social networking, etc. Never would I have fathomed, growing up, that part of parenting would be how to use this cyberworld to enhance life. It definitely involves constant vigilence on the part of the parent. Fortunately or unfortunately,social networking sites are filled with lots of examples of what NOT to do. What might seem innocent at posting, can have ramifications that that 13 year old never dreamed of. That is how I have used it in teaching my kids. On the flip side, I think it is wonderful to establish connections with their friends, to share ideas and support each other. However, Mom is always watching, and they know it!