Oh, the internet. I am a full believer in the idea of technology. I love the internet, I love social media, and I love the fact my kids have access to the world at their fingertips. However, with this new frontier comes a lot of responsibility. Rather than shutting the door in its face, I like to think proactively about how I can teach my kids to use it responsibly. I think about when I was a kid and wasn’t allowed to drink soda. So what did I do? I would sneak soda any time I could because I felt like a rebel. Regardless of what I think about my sweet, innocent, rule-abiding children, they are my children, which means they’re rebels. I’ve decided that the internet is one thing I would rather help my kids figure out than pretend it doesn’t exist and then be shocked when they’re watching a YouTube video on how to make makeup out of jolly ranchers.
My daughter Naudia wrote a book (My Friend Linkin) and we created a Facebook page for her to promote it. Little did she or I know how much the page would take off and what kind of uncharted waters we would land in given the access she has.
She’s 8 years old, still believes in Santa Claus, isn’t allowed to go to the park alone, can’t cook by herself, yet she runs a Facebook page that has a following of almost 500 people. While some of the people on there are friends, the majority of people she’s never met and are complete strangers to me and her.
The idea seems harmless though, right? Wrong. Naudia has no filter and believes that most people are good. While, I agree with her, I also realize that I need to step up my game and start now with internet education.
What is internet education? It’s a term I made up, but describes the education I have to give my kids on how to use the internet wisely. In a world where we share selfies, dinner pictures, dog shaming, cat videos, and overall anything, we need to think about how we want our kids to use it. Long gone are the days of me going out and not worrying about my mom, priest, or fellow co-workers seeing about it in real time. Long gone are the days where a household is the epicenter of privacy. All this leads me to questions about how to raise a daughter that isn’t an over-sharer.
When we sit down to go over her posts, I always ask her the same two questions: “Would you be okay with strangers seeing this?” and “Do you think this adds any value to the page?” While the answer to the first question is usually a resounding yes (remember, 8-year-old innocence), the second one makes her think a little bit more, which is a good thing. She usually thinks twice about it and switches up the phrasing a bit. Even though I’m there to monitor the posts in this specific case, I want her to be able to speak for herself. I feel like if I can teach her how to do it responsibly now, she’ll have fewer issues with it later.
I’m still new to the game, but hope if I can teach her at a young age she’ll be more responsible as she gets older. Undoubtedly there will be posts she will regret and will stumble upon things she wishes she had never seen, but I hope if I teach her well, then the number won’t be as high as mine would have been if I had WiFi as a 20-year-old.