Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yes, I'm One of Those Parents Who Wants to Keep The Computer in the Kitchen

Last night we asked Stella to watch Growing Up Online, a Frontline special, with us. She resisted at first, because, of course, all adults might be carriers for deadly contagious diseases and must be avoided at all costs. But I made her. Because that's what moms do.

I'm glad we watched it together. I think we both related to things we saw on screen. I have always talked to her about online stalking and child predators but realized from this show that most kids are pretty aware of that scenario and know to avoid people who approach them online. The biggest threat to most of these kids were.....other kids. Online harassment from peers is devastating and I can understand why. The internet can bring people together and also be incredibly isolating. Some of those kids had entirely separate lives on the internet. The internet allows kids to publicly express their private thoughts, away from their prying parents. A mother who was interviewed talked about how hard it is as a parent to feel so shut out from what's going in in her kids' lives. Stella is only 12 (almost 13, as I'm reminded daily) but I already feel the beginning of that. I remind myself that it's normal and natural for kids to detach from their parents.....but it still hurts.

Luckily we have the television to bring us together from time to time. Irony fully intended.


The [Cherry] Ride said...

I often wonder what it would have been like for me as a teen if I could have been able to blog. I actually think I would have gained more self-confidence. High school was the worst time for me, and having some kind of outlet I think would have helped.

5 of 9er said...

The stories I have read about in the last few years about internet stalking and abuse is crazy. When I went to school if there was a bully you were safe when you got home. Now... bullies can harrass you any time you log on. Not fun.

Alannah said...

Cherry, you make a good point. I believe that kids need private spaces where they can be themselves and express themselves. It's so tricky, though, because as a parent I want to know what's happening with her, should she need advice, guidance, etc.

And 9er, they made that point in the show....that a kid's home isn't necessarily the safe oasis anymore, due to online harassment.

marty said...

the internet has clear positive and negative impacts on kids, especially girls. yes, the risk is there for predators, but as you said, most kids know how to avoid these actions. i'm guessing stella would fall in that category in a major way. the benefits of the internet are just starting to be explored for this age group. people are starting to research online behaviors as leading to learning tools or communities. peer to peer learning spaces, that provide a place for expression that may not be happening in class for example. studies have shown that girls tend to shut down in middle school, but that online spaces (free from appearance judgments) allow them to build confidence. i don't have kids obviously, but to me it would seem to be about balance. staying involved, but allowing for growth.

having said this, i deleted my myspace b/c i was being harassed...

Anonymous said...

There are so many things out there to influence children. A child's biggest influence should be his/her parent(s). Keep instilling good morals and values, know you are doing a good job but there will be times she will test you, but she will turn out just fine with your good guidance.

Stephanie said...

I had to smile when you said you forced her to watch the show with you because J basically "forced" W to watch Planet of the Apes (the original) with him the other night. "Get in here and watch this, man, common'!

Anyway, my laptop is also in the kitchen and we (W & I) will sometimes sit and watch a bunch of stupid YouTube videos together, him cracking up and me rolling my eyeballs (and secretly laughing my butt off.)
AND let me just say - he was standing here watching me over my shoulder as I wrote that, and he just walked away, giving me The Look, "Mom, that's not really the best choice of words."

I hate it when they do that.

Also, you are an awesome Mom. Way cool :)