Tech Savvy Parenting
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, texting: these are the primary tools of teen communication. In fact, making a phone call or having face-to-face dialogue almost seems passé these days. There’s certainly the element of non-confrontation–it’s far easier to say something edgy or difficult via text or wall post than it is to look someone in the eye–as well as the idea that things said in text aren’t really that big of a deal. While it may be easier to say things that boost one’s ego and/or social standing without always having to do them in real life, there is always the potential of long-term, negative effects. For example, I see a ton of outrageous sexual commentary on Facebook, and the truthfulness behind it is always questionable. Facebook, in many ways, is an unmonitored breeding ground for risky behavior. Some other common practices on these sites is to code public messages. Some examples are using song lyrics to state an opinion or share an otherwise private tidbit, or posting inside jokes and references to get a message to select few while ensuring others (ie, parents) stay in the dark. Teens are well aware of the public atmosphere of Facebook, they’ve just figured out how to use it to their advantage. This is a product of their generation, right?
Parents may find themselves at a disadvantage here, particularly if they’re stuck in a Luddite mindset. This current generation has been raised on the expedient growth of technology and an ability to do more with less effort. They can reach hundreds by hitting “enter” or “post” and often times, they don’t have to carry the emotional weight of what they said or “did.” So, if parents want to be able to monitor their kids and stay in the know, learning how to use Facebook and familiarizing yourself with the latest text lingo (Heck, I still need a translator for this one sometimes!) is going to be key. We can’t stay in the dark ages of tape-driven answering machines, rotary phones, and busy signals whilst attempting to be effective parents in a technological age. The truth is, times really are changing, and the only way to keep up is to make sure we stay well-informed and tech savvy.