Lady, watch your kids

Share Button

Today’s blog is a little off my usual theme to bring you a public service announcement.

As you know, I’m big into social media tools. I teach people how to use them for themselves and for their businesses. But I often encounter people who don’t want to try, saying, “Oh, that’s for the kids, they know how to use that.” Or “I don’t know that kind of stuff, so why should I care about it?”

Well, I recently found out that a friend’s 13 year old daughter was on Twitter, and my friend didn’t even know — partly because they don’t have Internet access at home. The daughter had set up her account at the school library with the help of friends, and at first glance I could already make two recommendations: 1 – lock her account until she’s 18, and 2 – change her screen name to something with less sexual connotations. (I’m sure she had no idea of the connotations, but every adult who heard it, flinched.)

One day, the girl tweeted, “Going offline. If you need me, text me at ((cell number)).” I didn’t have her cell phone number before, but I do now, thanks to the tweet. And since her account was not yet locked, I texted her to let her know the whole world could see her cell number, too. (She had no idea, since no one taught her how Twitter really works.)

For the most part, her tweets are harmless, but since I follow her, I know before her parents do if she got into a fight at school or if she’s going to come home with stains on her blouse from an accident in science class. Should I be playing virtual babysitter from the other side of the island?

Social media is great for keeping in touch, sharing information, and of course, networking. But like any other communications tools, they need to be used with common sense. And if you have kids, it’s important that you cast your fears of technology aside to at least learn what they’re getting into, so even if you can’t stay one step ahead of them, you can at least keep up with them.

You can’t keep kids from getting into social media, since it’s free and readily available, but you can give them supervised social media access as part of the process of staying in touch. Besides, it will show them you’re up on their technology trends.

My friend’s daughter finally locked her account and changed her twitter name to something more neutral. And after a second lecture from me and some tips from Hawaiian Tel, my friend is finally getting internet access at home. Once I get her set up on Twitter and Facebook, I’ll be relieved to turn the online parenting duties back over to her. :)

36 comments
CindySJ
CindySJ

Pretty scary. I'm glad you were able to help out. Sometimes you just need keep up with new things just to be aware, you know?

jimmy
jimmy

the little jimmies will need a MA (mean auntie) when they know what online is. Hope to learn from PCB and yuenhdz. You won't find jimmy on fb or twt...yet.

chrisquintana
chrisquintana

You may be the "Mean Aunty", but you're the "Good Aunty", too. I was talking to my friend who has 2 sons (teen & pre-teen). She recently let them get on Facebook, but she created their pages and only she has their log-on info. Also, she & her husband put some kind of parental lock on the internet which gives the boys extremely limited internet access (when they're home by themselves). They can only access Facebook if one of the parents are home & has removed the "lock". The computer is in the living room, in view of the parents. My friend is Chinese--she doesn't mess around.

SisLum
SisLum

I'm curious what the original Twitter name was.

SisLum
SisLum

Srsly? Someone in this day and age doesn't have Internet in their home? Do they still have a rotary phone, too?

Melissa_Kim
Melissa_Kim

Way to go Melissa! I literally just had a dream last night where I was talking to my friend about her child (who in reality is actuallly on Facebook and her mother didn't know until I told her) and how her child was being a cyber bully!!! I definitely appreciate how you handled it and that the teen in question took heed to your advice and followed it. Wish I had that kind of advice when I was teen with internet access.

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

since i know who ur friend is, i have an idea of what a sea change it was for them to get online at home (who wdn't be nowadays, tho?). thank goodness u provided the kick in the butt. suggestion: can u get this piece into print? parents who aren't online won't see it here.

Sushi
Sushi

I was a teenager during the pre-Facebook and Twitter online age, and my online activity consisted primary of blogging and writing forums. This was before everyone had an online presence, so most of my classmates didn't know I was writing about them on the Internet. ;) Now a lot of kids can't get away with that, not just because of their classmates but because of their parents! I would have been much more reserved if my parents or more of my classmates knew my online identity.

jlieu
jlieu

OMG... WOW this is interesting- I am kinda scared now to have kids- so many things to have to watch out for :P

ksfuji
ksfuji

Great post. I was a witness to that incident. I think because Mom is not online she has no idea what you potentially averted. Glad she changed her screen name! Let me know when Mom gets online. We can throw her a coming online party.

kfinches
kfinches

wonderful post melissa and bravo for your intervention and education. Many kids take stuff like that better from an outside source. I try to 'mother' my girls from 6000 miles away, and they call me on it everytime. But I tell them I'm their mother no matter how far away... it's what we do.

yuenhdz
yuenhdz

Your friend is very lucky that you cared enough to protect her daughter. Good job, Melissa!

Ynaku
Ynaku

That really hits a nerve. I got on FB to keep an eye on my kids. When I see inappropriate things going on or the sharing of private info, I'm on his case in a heart beat. "DELETE THAT RIGHT NOW!!!!" Even if others start to "ACT UP" I'll DM or pull them aside next time I see them and reason with them that they shouldn't be doing certain things.

Now I'm not a busy body and let them have fun. But some things should be left unsaid and private. Some didn't realize that the whole world can see what they're posting.

Another is "SEXTING" Sending text and pics with sexual conotations. Don't get me started on this. If I catch my kids doing any of this, I'll yank any privileges they have. I love my kids and they know how far they can get with me. I'm blessed to have good children.

Parents, know what you kids are doing (or posting)?

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@jimmy Mean Auntie does not want to watch Jimmy's kids until they learn "inside voice!" LOL

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@chrisquintana I heard about locks parents can put on their kids' cel phones, so either they can 1) only use it during certain hours or 2) within certain GPS - specific areas. I'm sure if I had kids, I'd be as strict as your friend! And I'm Chinese!!! Oh.....wait.....

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@SisLum No rotary phone, but they do have a landline! They're our age, too!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@Melissa_Kim Thanks!! I think all of this happens way more often (too often) than most people think, huh?

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@Ynaku @jlieu hahaha I gotta agree on that! Even after I moved out, I was the baby.

Ynaku
Ynaku

@Melissa808 @jlieu Don;t be afraid to have kids. Show them a lot of love and trust that they will do the right thing. You cannot get away from Social or digital media. That's the direction. But ensure you kids that you are there for them and only want the best for them and being a parent, we always have that nuturing spirit. (Until they grow old and move out :-) ) Nah, if you love your kids, you will always be protective of them no matter what. Ask my 29 y'o daughter. So no sked em

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@jlieu nah, don't be scared....besides, you're always at the forefront of social media tools!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@ksfuji aiyah! Yet another reason to be online, to help protect your kids. I hope your coworker was able to take the profile down.

ksfuji
ksfuji

@Melissa808
I just remembered an incident my coworker had with her child. I saw her daughter on FB. Even though she is 15, I found her interests a little disturbing. So I asked my coworker if she knew that her daughter was on FB. She said she isn't. I said okay there is a profile on there with your daughters picture and your son is her friend. But the name was slightly misspelled. So because my coworker is not connected online. I had to bring her to my house and show her FB. My friend was livid. But after confronting her daughter, she found out that someone had set up that profile under her name. Kinda scary huh?

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@ksfuji Thanks! We should all go over and teach them E V E R Y T H I N G. Honestly, I scolded the parents harder than the daughter.

yuenhdz
yuenhdz

@Melissa808 My little ones won't be going online anytime soon, but when they do, I shall be prepared.

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@yuenhdz thanks! I'm glad you've been active online so you can monitor your little ones!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@Ynaku I feel the same way, kids should have fun and I don't screen every single thing the girl tweets. But this exercise showed me that I'd probably be one to clamp down on my kid if I were a parent. "EH, Lock your account NOW....till you're 18" was my line.