The other day my Daughter told me she was expecting a letter through the post from a friend she had “met” on Instagram. I cricked my neck when I turned to her sharply saying, “who is this person? What are you doing giving out our address? How do you know she is who she says she is? Has she asked to meet you?” I panicked. I totally panicked!
Being a child/teenager/young adult in this Century is hard, much harder than it was in the 80’s and early 90’s when I was a teenager. Computers were virtually non existent, smart phones, tablets, xboxes didn’t exist. We lived on fresh air and sunshine, board games and books. They were fabulous times. Our parents trusted us to behave and if we didn’t then the neighbours -who were always called Uncle or Aunty so and so- would feel confident enough to reprimand us. The neighbours were also “allowed” to take us into their homes and patch us up if we had fallen over. They were wonderful years (well, for us anyway).
We had pen pals! We loved receiving letters through the post from virtual strangers who in some cases became good friends. Now! I panicked when my daughter said she was getting a letter from a virtual stranger – a pen pal! This is no longer acceptable is it? Because this “pen pal” has to be a paedophile grooming my daughter! It turned out to be a genuine letter full of glitter confetti and a little note from a teenage girl. I know because I made my Daughter open it in front of me!
We need the internet! I am on the internet as I type. My website is necessary for my work. Facebook is essential for getting latest offers out and attracting new clients to my Business.
I went on a Twitter Workshop just last week to learn how Twitter can work for my business. I keep in contact with my friends. I get to see photos of my nieces and nephews. I see how well my God-daughter is doing, now driving a car and getting more and more beautiful every day. Being informed of status updates, following local businesses on Twitter and conversing with them. It is a wonderful network that can work fantastically well.
It can also drive me to distraction. So we have parental controls but children and computers are more clever and computer savvy than the majority of us parents. I constantly ask my children for help and advice. We reiterate time and time again the importance of privacy, always commenting on news articles where another person has gone off with someone they met on the internet. I may not be computer savvy but I know far too much about trolls, people pretending to be someone they are not, paedophiles grooming young vulnerable, angst ridden children and teenagers. As parents we HAVE to be aware of this. Whether we like it or not our children are on the internet. Even homework is done online now, and gone are the days when you got out an encyclopedia for research! Phones are no longer for talking to people on but for texting or checking our social media updates. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.
Whilst it is hard being a child in this day, it is equally hard being a parent. It is naive of us to ignore it, think it won’t happen to us or our children because it can. It can happen to any of us, despite the warnings, the safety, the “talks” to our Children. Children are now bought up to question everyone, sad but necessary. Ultimately we can only do our best, monitor as best we can. Ipads and phones out of the bedroom by 8.30pm and constantly reiterating the importance of internet safety.
We have to trust your children because if we don’t then who will? I do trust mine, its just everybody else I don’t trust!