I think one thing that surprises me about parenting is the repetition. Everything gets repeated. While I expected this with babies and toddlers, I'm a little surprised at how often I find myself repeating the same things over and over to my tween.
I realize that if I really thought back to when I was a tween, though, I'd be far less surprised.
But it seems "one and done" is not a phrase that describe anything in parenting, and certainly not when it comes to technology. Talking with kids about tech is a conversation that doesn't really have an end point, as I realized this week.
My daughter sent a video to her two best friends that reminded me of the fact that not everything gets absorbed as I would hope, that mistakes will be made (by both of us), and that the conversation about the best ways to communicate through technology absolutely need to be ongoing.
The video my daughter sent wasn't anything awful, but it also didn't meet the requirement that she T.H.I.N.K. before sharing, meaning it was not overly true, helpful, informative, kind, or necessary.
I've repeatedly said that parents need to make sure our kids know that anything posted online can live forever. That message, however, needs to be expanded to cover sharing info through any channel.
Kids need to know that what they share with friends through technology, in any form, can live forever. It can also take on a life of its own.
My daughter seemed to think that since she privately shared a video when messaging her friends that it was different than if she had posted it on social media. While there are some distinctions between the two, the fact remains that whatever she shares can take on a life of it own.
The lines between phones, computers, texts, apps, sites are all rather blurred, and they all fall under the umbrella of technology. I like the idea of having a tech contract, not just a phone contract. (You can change the name on the Tween Us phone contract.)
The second you hit send, but it on a phone, an app, the computer, anything, they are giving up any control of that message. That's not something that sinks in with kids on the first mention. Or the second. Or even when your mom talks and writes about it over and over again. (At least, that's true if you're my kid).
She said that she trusts her friends, and I agree that they are great girls, but there's no telling what can happen with info that you share.
She loves her friends, and I appreciate them as well, as I've said here. But there's no way to know for certain that a video or image won't get passed along, even for the most innocent of reasons.
I was a bit disheartened that I hadn't imparted to her that you shouldn't share anything you don't want broadcast on national television. When I asked if she would be okay if that video aired in the middle of her favorite show, she said "no." If that's the case, she should not have sent it at all.
And all this was a reminder to me that talking about tech with our kids is an ongoing conversation, and that important points require repeating, often more than I would like. The term "spiral learning" that refers to the technique of continually revisiting key concepts applies to tech talk, too.
It was also a good moment to remember that kids are going to make mistakes, including with technology, and that keeping tabs on them and what they are sharing is important. It gives you a chance to help them learn from their mistakes and make sure they know the facts about sharing information through any form of technology.
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