“Mom, we want to Facebook.”
“Don’t you mean face-palm?
“No, Mom. Facebook!”
“Oh and by the way, since you both so rudely interrupted me while I was working, I should mention there’s also ‘head-desk.’ Sorry, I meant, ‘Oh and bee tee double-u.'”
“Can we Facebook? Um… Please.”
“Sure. Grab as many books as you like and bury your faces in them. Best way to read.”
“Seriously? OK then, WHAAAAATTTTTTTT?”
“May we please have Facebook accounts?”
“Aww, you sound so polite and sweet. Grammar’s OK too. But, no.”
“Ask your dad why. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out your Plan B from this discussion.”
“Dad, why can’t we have Facebook accounts?”
Dad: “Because, sometimes Plan B fails too.”
This conversation took place last year in our Home of Horrible Parenting, and they survived ten whole months without signing up for their first official social media experience (visiting Grandma and using her Facebook account for games not withstanding.) There was no acting out, and only minor sulking every so often. When they were occasionally mocked by the few who will do what overly-dependant-on-what-everyone-else-does kind of people sometimes do, they took it well, and we saw no signs of pissiness, or looks which said “You are like the most un-cool parents like ever!”
Then, this year their school decided to get more ‘social’ online, and expected every parent to cave under the pressure by letting their kids sign up for everything.
*face palm* *head desk* *xanax*
I did not cave. But, I did allow one social media site to be added to my kids list of entertainment, and school extra-curricular activities.
“Facebook seems to be the most logical choice.” I said to the huz, who agreed only because the logic of that made no sense to either of us.
There was much wooting and cartwheeling in the living room from the kid quarter. I sat down, grabbed a notebook and pen and announced. “Ground rules.”
The wooting faded into oblivion, but then the huz hooted and snorted and ruined the moment.
“Rule one hundred.” I began, watching their eyes widen. “We’re counting backwards to one. Still want an account?”
“Yes!!” They screamed in unison.
“Strike one.” Said the huz, grinning.
“Ninety nine to go in this game, sucker.” I muttered.
“Alright,” I snapped at the kids. “No adult friends.”
“OK!!!!!!!!” They screamed.
“Except Grandma.” I added.
Some cartwheels and wooting followed that, and also a kind of war dance which kicked off my vertigo in a bad way.
“No teen friends.” I said. “Not even cousins.”
“I get informed of all friend requests and approve them before you approve.”
“You don’t get accounts if you scream again.”
The silence was beautiful.
After the rules were laid down (I went easy on them, just 95,) we went about setting up accounts, and for a while it got annoying, because two little people with some computer experience can tend to think they know it all. Somehow, it all changed when I elbowed them out of the way and took over the laptop. A few minutes in and I was elevated from just ‘Mom’ to “Holy shit!!! Mom really knows this stuff!!“
Ten minutes were shaved off their online time for that backhanded compliment.
So, of course I’m not the mom who is going to be soooo impressed with her kids tech skills on dad’s iPad, that she’ll let them run roughshod over her laptop and then later update her own Facebook with “My precious-wecious angels are AMAZING! They filled out a simple online sign up form ALL BY THEMSELVES and even clicked the submit button which *gasp* took them to ANOTHER page! They are tech GENIUSES! Time for stupid Mommy to take lessons from them and idiot Daddy to buy them their own iPhone 6 LOL”
What’s up with parents who talk like that, right? Drives me nuts.
What’s worse is when those same parents start complaining about how their kids are so addicted to every piece of technology they were given on demand, that it’s just so so sad when Mommy tries to engage them in conversation and gets no response from her screen-swiping, net-worshipping geniuses.
Isn’t raising them to
STFU be quiet, the plan?
It’s not like I don’t get that this is the hand-held tech generation, because I do. I love technology, my kids were born into it, and to us parents who are from the close of Gen X (and the original WTFers in case you did not know.) We had the cell phones which were so small, you could keep them in the coin pocket of your jeans, we ASLd everyone and navigated ICQ and MSN chat on dial-up, OK? We’re not as clueless as we’re making ourselves out to be, neither are we so backward that we cannot grasp all this awesomeness our kids are growing into everyday because they’re rocking at Minecraft.
Most of the books I ever wanted to get my kids were more easily available on Kindle than in book stores here, and still are. Homework assignments posted on Facebook are a norm now, the hashtag is a part of online conversation, the ‘Like’ button is somehow supposed to show you give a damn more than you typing a few words will.
My gift to all Like button pressers.
I get it. But, I don’t get all this giving up of parental control followed by whining that you somehow lack control because the internet is this black hole which sucks your kids in, takes over their lives and leaves you out.
That is utter bullshit!
And, no, signing up on every social media platform and manically friending/stalking your tween on there is not going to give you control in the black hole.
When I see a picture of a kid at a restaurant with his face buried in a phone posted on Facebook by his parent, who tags it to death and captions it “We just cannot get him off that new smartphone! He hasn’t even looked at the menu! I don’t know what to do! LOL”
I think, ‘How about you stop snapping pictures on your smartphone, updating Facebook from your smartphone, get off your smartphone and pick up your own menu first, genius?’
Then there is the argument that kids need smartphones because how else will the poor dears feel equal to their peers?
“All my friends have one” is not a new battle cry for the love of Steve Jobs! We all said that and we all know it really meant only one or two of our friends actually had Atari in their homes.
“No, we will not buy you the new iPhone 6 because two kids in your class have them” is a perfectly acceptable thing to say to your children without them turning into social (media?) outcasts.
Do I want my kids to have the good things in life? Yes. Do I want them to be a kid who gets everything just because it’s a shiny new “must have?” Hell no, and I’m not embarrassed to be that parent. “You’re entitled to everything and I must provide you with it” is not the path I want to set my kids on, because I don’t want them to be that kid and I refuse to be that slave parent who raises snot nosed brats that run out into the world screaming “Gimme! Gimme! You have to gimme, because I said gimme!!!”
I’m really the parent who says”whatever good things you earn and own in adulthood will be mine by default because #PostPregnancyBladder.”
But, the bigger lesson I want them to learn is that when I’m hit with new-age stuff which sometimes might be alien to me, I will not crumble and be led by the nose.
I like being in control, OK? Bite me.
“Oh yeah you can be snotty now, but what happens if they rebel and go behind your back, bitch?”
Ha! Like kids rebelling in one way or the other has never happened in the history of human kind. Like we were all perfectly good, halo-wearing saints ourselves and OMG what if our kids never wear halos?
Let’s be realistic here, let’s stop getting intimidated by social media, the app, the latest smartphone, and the opinion of a ten year old who just wants a new toy. Let’s stop worrying incessantly about whether our kids are going to catch up or not if we hold back on some things, or alternatively whine about how horrible and socially disconnected kids are going to turn out because they are getting virtually addicted.
I know it’s fun blaming everything but ourselves for how rotten our kids are turning out, but…
Social media like anything else, has its pros and cons. Let’s accept that.
There’s a time for kids to have their own smartphones. Let’s figure out when for our own kids and not just because one of our 650 Facebook friends got their kid one, or because we want to be the first of the 650 who gets their golden-halo wearing angel one.
Rules can (and should) be applied for when and how kids use their phones/tablets without us tearing our hair out. And, incidentally, “no phones at the dinner table” is not a rule, it’s respect for the family meal ten year olds should already have.
There is such a thing as teaching kids to strike a balance.
Which is not rocket science.
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