I was in a meeting yesterday and the discussion turned towards the internet, our preteen kids and basically, how we all figure out what works for us and what doesn’t when it comes to our kids and their online usage (which seems to be an ongoing discussion). One mom brought up cel phones being in the locker rooms while young girls are changing for sporting competitions and how this makes her dreadfully uncomfortable. Whoosh – the air went out of me. Just the thought of that whole scenario brought a shiver to my spine, and I started to think how dangerous technology can be if used in the wrong way.
It was not long though before those bad thoughts drifted away, and I continued to ponder the wonder of the world-wide web. I know that these really awful, terrible things can happen (just look at what has been happening in Steubenville, PA), but the internet also opens opportunity to small business owners, budding entrepreneurs, isolated moms, and a whole host of other people hourly. Not just through Google, but while reading and sharing blog posts, reconnecting with old and newer friends on Facebook, and dare I say, through the occasional twitter chat, bonds can be formed, reinforced, or simply made.
I know it may suggest that I am a bit wonky that I trust the net so much, but I do. It is learning to be careful, appropriate, and wise when using it. As I continue to ponder and wonder how to handle the net and my own preteens and where I stand, I always come back to role-modeling. Making wise choices and explaining how I (we) do this to my (our) kids helps reinforce good habits while weeding out the bad.
For me the choice is not to prohibit use, but help teach appropriate use and sometimes that is not always easy. If someone’s feeling are hurt on Instagram, they deserve an apology and perhaps the lesson learned will be this: Think before you type (and this is a lesson better learned earlier than later). We learned to think before we speak. Now, the times have changed – It is think before you type, text, tweet, chat, kik, or like.
I always lament that I wish I had something larger like Cool Mom Picks when I was buying baby gear or a place to connect like The Motherhood when I was in the throws of early toddlerhood. I didn’t, so I consider newer moms lucky as can be with the net at their disposal. I like to be a part of it as much as I can because it just feels cool to me. That’s it – cool. Cool because it is new and ever-changing and quite frankly, refreshing to say how we are feeling, journal our thoughts, and get perspectives from outside our neighborhood or inner circle.
I find it even cooler that my kids will continue to see this grow, making it cooler than I ever dare to imagine, and if they learn how to be appropriate online, I can only imagine that the internet will be their oyster. Transition and change often go hand in hand with fear. Our kids do not get whiplash from the internet changing lightning fast, but rather I see them rolling with it. I like this. A lot. They are not afraid but rather intrigued with each new change.
I fell yesterday while running alone in the woods yesterday. Not one of my greater moments in history. My mom being my mom and still thinking I am 12 years old, came over to see me. I was appreciative, believe me, but even more telling was the little outpouring that came from the net. Friends texted and messaged, my old college roommate insisted that I get an ID bracelet because I could hit my head (omg, I hope there is not a next time), and Sarah from Smart Bitches, who I discovered was in my high school Spanish Class, sent me a virtual gift that quite simply – no one could to top (sorry, it is private).
Last night, I crawled into bed a sore but happy gal to have so much thoughtfulness.
Yeh, that’s the web at its finest.
I want that for my kids. An ability to connect and reconnect and stay in touch and create cool opportunities in unchartered territory. Definitely.
What works for you?