I’ve been having a bit of an epiphany lately, and I have decided that kids are growing up too fast. I’m not just talking about my own children; I am talking about kids in general.
So many kids from Ethan’s year at school have their own Facebook profiles. I went a bit stalker-ish, and had a look at some of them. Guess what I found on most of them? No privacy settings! Photos visible to everyone! In some cases, their mothers (many of whom I am friends with) are not even on their friends list. That is a big no-no in my opinion.
Not to mention the fact that it’s actually illegal for anyone under 13 to have a Facebook profile …
One boy in Tyler’s year had his own Facebook page (um …) and he had posted photos from the movie “Ted”, calling it the “best movie eva”. WHAT? I haven’t seen the movie — I wouldn’t want to. Watching the previews was bad enough. If you google the movie and read the “memorable quotes”, you will (hopefully) agree that no 8-year-old should be watching such a film. Crude and rude. F-bombs and the C-word and a whole heap of sexual innuendo. Inappropriate, much?
Sometimes I just have this overwhelming feeling that we are not doing the right thing by our kids. I want to shout from the rooftops: “Let kids be KIDS! They have the rest of their lives to be grown ups and do grown up things!”
As far as I’m concerned, my boys really do have the rest of their lives to watch M-rated movies and waste hours on Facebook. Call me a mean Mum — I don’t care!
We did give Ethan Rob’s old cellphone when he started college, but it is really for emergency use only. I don’t see why he needs to text friends that he has already seen for 6 hours at school, or why he needs to text friends that live locally — no, you can pick up the phone and have a real conversation with them instead, one that costs nothing!
Before he got his cellphone, I had a long conversation with Ethan about texting. I told him how important it is to learn how to communicate properly. How to make a telephone call, how to construct an email, how to write a letter (preferably with a pen and paper!), how to look somebody in the eyes when speaking to them face-to-face. There are so many people out there who communicate via text or email 99% of the time. People say things via email or text message that they would never say to somebody’s face, and that’s not a culture I want my children to be involved in when they don’t have the maturity to understand it. I also talked to Ethan about text bullying and how damaging it can be. And then I reminded him who actually PAYS for the texting! ;-)
I figured it was important to set ground rules early, to avoid potential problems in the future. Ethan knows he cannot text anybody on his phone without asking us first. He doesn’t know our Wi-Fi password so he cannot use the internet on his iPod. If he wants to download new games or songs, he writes me a list. I vet the list, download them onto my computer, and put them onto his iPod. Neither of the boys are allowed to use the computer without asking Rob or I first, and it is always in a place where we can monitor what they are doing. They don’t complain about it; they just know that those are the rules.
I have also told Ethan that he will not be allowed to create a Facebook profile until he is 13. I wasn’t sure what his response would be, considering that some of his friends have accounts already. It turns out he doesn’t want one. I couldn’t be happier about that.
As for movies, I admit that my boys do complain sometimes about not being allowed to watch M-rated movies that all their friends have (supposedly) seen. We don’t ban ALL M-rated movies, just most of them. We have allowed them to watch all the Star Wars and Narnia movies (some of which are M), as well as a few others like The Avengers, Spiderman, etc. Rob & I always watch them first to make sure they are suitable. The boys don’t always understand why we won’t let them watch some movies. We explain that it’s because they have adult themes and ideas that they are not old enough to understand, but even that is hard for them to understand! Which really just proves our point! ;-)
Anyway, I honestly think that kids are growing up too fast. As a parent, I want to make sure my kids are mature enough to handle the responsibilities they are given, such as owning their own phone or iPod, having a Facebook account, being allowed to watch certain movies or TV shows, or play particular video games.
These days, there’s a huge discrepancy between what kids are exposed to and what they are able to comprehend. And I think that’s a little sad. Sometimes I wish we were back in the 80’s. I feel like my childhood was a lot simpler!