Uh oh…. I’m in that space of time that all parents dread. I’m in the “Teenager Zone.” I am the mother of two boys: one 15 year old and one 11 year old. I think that any competent adult can and would concede that our society is full of children and teens that either have no parents, or have no parental “care” over them. Many children and teens are lost “in the system” due to crime, divorce or abuse. It’s really sad to think about. I am a child of divorce, and unfortunately, my children are as well. But despite that negative statistic, my children have both their father and me still in their lives. And, we care.
I’d like to think that I am a very involved parent in my sons’ lives. Since taking on a new day job at the end of October, I haven’t been able to be as plugged in as I had been previously and that bothers me. My boys would probably tell you that I’m involved “enough.” My teenager will probably say that I’m over involved. But as a parent, I take my responsibility very seriously. I was a teenager once and I KNOW what goes through the mind of one, I know when a teenager is embarrassed and I know when a teenager wishes their parents would just butt out. I had all those feelings too and I am female, so imagine the control that was over me back then?!
I am now “thirty-something” and I see in my teenager what I myself felt when I was one. And I worry that my son will not hear or heed my warnings and hear or heed the love in my voice and actions. What brings this blog entry to light? Online security.
Both my boys have online profiles that I keep my eye on. I have strict rules about what they can or cannot do; how long they can be online and that they cannot be online in any private room. It’s the safest way to allow them to be “connected” with their friends both in “real life” and in the online world. But nothing is foolproof.
Today, someone (an adult) decided to add my son to an online group. This person is a self-ascribed “single mother” in her thirties of a teenaged girl and she created the group as a “closed group.” This person did not ask for my son’s permission, nor did she ask for my permission to add my son to her closed group, she just did it. I’m flabbergasted that she did this. I immediately sent a message asking who she was, what the group was, and why she felt it was okay to add a minor child to a close group without anyone’s permission. Why a closed group? What’s there to hide? I have yet to receive an answer as of the writing of this blog entry.
I followed up with my son, who this week is on winter vacation with his father. He happened to be visiting with his paternal grandmother this day when I caught up with him. I explained to him what I saw, explained to him that I knew he didn’t voluntarily sign up for the group, but told him that he needed to disassociate himself from the group and also to post on his profile that he did not want anyone adding him to any group without his (or my) permission.
Needless to say, my son is disgruntled. I know why. He didn’t want to have to post what I required of him because of potential flack from his friends/contacts. This is an unwanted and undesirable effect of this whole situation. I am not happy about it either, but apparently there are people, adults even, out there that have no concern for courteous behavior, and common sense security for online activities. I shouldn’t be surprised, but yet I am. What would this woman have thought had I decided to add her daughter to a closed group that she had no access to? I wonder if she would care as much? I simply do not know, nor can I judge in this situation. All I know is that I won’t take any chances with my sons’ security and safety.
It is not my desire to embarrass my son(s), nor restrict them accept on reasonable levels, but I won’t hesitate to do the right thing, even if that means I become unpopular. Too many kids aren’t cared for enough by their parents or in this society; my kids will not be added to that number. My kids are my life. They are my heart and I couldn’t bear to see them hurt or their security compromised in any way by anyone else’s thoughtlessness, nor my own ignorance. As parents we must be involved in a caring and authoritative way. Every day. Our kids depend on us whether they realize it or not.
Thanks for reading,