Yesterday I walked into my local U.S. Post Office with my son T.A. in my arms while balancing the 4 small packages I was endeavoring to send off Priority Mail style. Which, by the way, kudos to our USPS for putting these self-service kiosks in along with standard mail supplies so people like parents of small children can get stuff done without necessarily waiting in that long, winding line in the main area.
I set my son on one of the work tables and held him with one arm as I addressed and sealed my packages with my free hand. All the while I am feeling proud of myself for getting this minor task done without a meltdown or acting-out by my 21 month old.
My happy-go-lucky soundtrack in my mind is suddenly shattered by the one-way conversation I overheard as a lady walks up talking on her cell phone. “Well, you know they are going to ask us soon enough to have a Facebook account as they’ll be 10 and 11 years old soon, and well we will have to deal with it but yeah, there is just so much danger with these things that they don’t realize…”
If she said anything further I didn’t hear the words, had already tuned the lady out as I begin to dwell on the idea of my child wanting to have his own link to a networking site one day when he is an adolescent, a bulging teenager. The very thought jarred me completely, I was weighed down by the realization that the challenges continue to get more complicated as our beloved children grow.
My son argues with me nowadays with grunts and wordless syllables that can most easily be pacified by a food treat or changing the subject. What will it be like when he is going back and forth with me in long sentence diatribes about how unfair I am to keep him from connecting to the internet unfettered.
Is it so far-fetched of me to think that allowing kids to log on to the internet with no supervision is much worse than letting them drive cars at 16 years old? Why do we as parents feel that we must accept computers and the internet as the new norm for our children?
Maybe I’m just a dinosaur when it comes to technology, but I just don’t think that developing bodies and minds should become so dependent on them. Should they know how to use them–of course! Should they use the internet for all their research projects? I truly believe the answer should be no but am willing to permit perhaps 25% from that source. It’s not helpful to guide the next generation to get all their answers to life and interactions in friendship and love through these silly keyboards and mouse clickers.
I know some of you may be angered by my opinion and it is understandable if your knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Oh yeah? Just you wait until you have to deal with this issue from your child.” But I also know that we as parents can stick to what we believe is right for our children.
For instance, my husband and I agreed that it was important to us that we avoid having our son watch commercial TV prior to me giving birth to him. 21 months later and I can honestly say that we have succeeded with a couple concessions, in the last few months we have allowed him to see us watching our Alma Mater college football games and we started a couple bilingual videos that he watches every other day and sometimes daily. We also had to cut back our own viewing of TV in order to accomplish this and feel we have benefited from it as well.
It’s by no means easy to be a parent, especially in the 21st century when technology can be a useful tool and yet also a divisive instrument that can alienate families in their own home (picture family evening with dad with blackberry, child with Ipod, child with laptop, mom with cell phone texting, etc).
Ultimately, you make the choice as to what’s appropriate whether it be to allow a Facebook page for your son or daughter–I hope for you it is the choice that makes you feel at peace as you raise your child(ren).