So I was just sitting here after a shift at work, sipping a glass of wine and surfing Facebook, when I saw a video that someone had shared.
It was one of those "social media experiments" where some young fella lures a young girl somewhere to show how easy it is to get kids nowadays into unsafe situations. Now, I have seen a couple of these, and I was feeling pretty happy-go-lucky tonight and didn't feel like watching anything that would freak me out.
But for some reason I clicked the stupid link:
So I was about to close it at the point when he's about to meet the first girl - but then her dad jumped out, which shocked me - and I forgot. I ended up watching it, even those these videos tend to do nothing but depress me (I mean, shit like this happens every day - it IS depressing.)
But when it came to the last girl, and her parents are yelling at her, the mother's words really struck me. She was yelling at her daughter about how they had watched videos together, and read news articles, and discussed this sort of thing. It took me aback, as those are exactly the sorts of things I would do with my own kids to warn and teach them of these dangers.
And yet this girl still did it. She was educated by her parents as to the dangers of strangers through social media, and she GOT INTO AN UNMARKED VAN WITH A STRANGER.
More than any video showing me how many kids still do this, that mother's words terrified me. Because if she did all that, how am I supposed to get through to my own kids. If showing them, talking to them, warning them, TEACHING THEM, doesn't make it clear...what are parents supposed to do?
Social media and technology are the unfortunate ways of the future, so one can't cut their kids off - they'll need that knowledge and savvy to navigate their futures. I mean, at what age should kids be having their own FB pages?? I know people with young kids who let them have their own social networking page already, but is that just handing pedophiles a key to your front door? If you educate the snot out of your child, but peer pressure and the age-old desire to just feel WANTED can drive them to still let a complete stranger into their homes, is the answer is just to simply remove their ability to make such decisions? No cellphones, iPods, social media pages? And while that removes the ability to communicate, does it also castrate their tech-skills? Will it prevent them from succeeding?
It was Uncle Ben who said that "with great power, comes great responsibility." Peter Parker was a 15-year old genius, and yet it still cost his uncle's life to drill into him the reality of his situation. How are 12-year-old girls that are bombarded with daily images of a perfect body, boyfriend, and breasts supposed to fight the urge to chat with someone who finally makes them feel SEEN? My kids are 6 and 8 and they BOTH have classmates with their own phones, iPods, etc. If every kid in class has their own phone number and youTube account, is ostracizing them (by not allowing devices, etc) the equivalent of the peer-pressure they inevitably receive already??
I'm sure I'm not the only parent to think these things (Jeebus, I hope I'm not...) so I would love your thoughts. It's too complex a problem for a simple solution, unless we can gather all the pedophiles and banish them to a hellish island, in which case, yes, let's do that:)
What do you guys think? Ban the electronics and social media? Educate and educate, and then just hope for the best? Force yourself into every aspect of your child's life? Cause I'm about there...
How about you??