Monday, December 9, 2013
A teenage girl, the internet and me
The new challenge that we've faced this year is managing the internet. More specifically the ubiquitous access to the internet. 3G + teenage girls = bad, bad combo.
My daughter bought herself an iPod touch earlier this year. She had a very boring Nokia phone that we gave her for Christmas last year (her face literally fell when she opened it) but her friends mostly have iPhones (usually mum and dad's old ones) with 3G access. So constant access to the internet. And constant access to social media apps like Kik and Viber. This means you can constantly be in touch with your friends. And your parents have NO IDEA what the discussion is about. It seems most parents are either unaware (I provide the benefit of the doubt here) or don't care (now I get grumpy) that their kids are constantly accessing whatever they like on the net. Not only is the net not a lovely place but sometimes the way girls communicate with one another on it is not very pleasant.
Back to the iPod touch. When she's at home she could access the internet through our Wi-Fi. But I said we wouldn't give her internet access. And the unhappiness started. Why? Because texting was so 2012, as is Facebook and all communication among her group was happening through these apps. (Seriously the technology changes with lightening fast speed. Totally different having a boy in year 7 two years ago). And she was missing out on stuff. I guess I could have said no, but as I'm learning quickly, having a teenager is not all about me and what suits me. Compromises need to be made because your kids have to see that you've listened to them properly and that you're willing to trust them (and plus it gives you something to take away when it goes pear shaped - hee, hee!).
So we let her have access to the one app that her friends use to communicate with each other and locked everything else (including Safari). Check out the restriction setting - it is a bewtiful thang.
5 good things I've learnt from this tale.
1. It's good to have a high horse to make parenting judgements from. Kids like that you have clear and high standards.
2. It's good to get down from the high horse occasionally to show that you think your child is an actual person.
3. It's good to keep on top of technology. It's not cool to just throw your hands up and say 'Oh they're so good with that computery stuff - I just can't keep up with it'. Sure you're not going to understand it all, but know enough to look competent. We all download stuff through the same apple ID. I have the power (and the money) but I also get to keep an eye on what they're buying. I've also enjoyed (mostly) getting into their new music.
4. It's good to keep talking to your kids. More gooder is that you're available for the talking. Hiding in my bed reading a book is my favourite past-time - and interestingly the kids have discovered this and steadily trickle in for a quiet chat on their own.
5. It's good to acknowledge that you won't know everything that's going on, because when things go wrong you aren't a hopeless parent. You're just straddling the weird world of living with a young person who is still dependent on you, but is at the same time working out how to be an independent person.