With your permission, I would like to talk like a curmudgeon for about 600 words. Curmudgeons, according to the dictionary, are crusty, ill-tempered and usually old men.
Sensing that you have given me permission, I will channel my curmudgeonly self.
I have seen a lot in my lifetime. Used to be when you had a problem at school, you went home and, by the time you came back to school, everyone had forgotten about it. While we had phones, that was all we had. And my parents were certainly not going to let me use the phone to settle a score from school.
So the issue, whatever it was, was soon forgotten.
Now kids cannot get away. When a problem develops at school, thanks to social media, it is stoked all night long. Then when the students return to school, it often bursts into flames.
As parents, we need to help our children develop problem-solving skills. Instead of escalating a situation, we need to help out children learn to de-escalate and find peaceful solutions. Social norms seem to have coarsened over time, but it is still important to look for solutions instead of resorting to violence.
As parents, we also need to be more aware. We need to take the time to see what kind of messages our children are sending and receiving. Are the messages sent appropriate? Are the messages sent meant to escalate the drama or reduce the drama?
As parents, we need to keep up to date on the kinds of social media our children are using. This is not easy. Our children seem so adept and natural at using technology and some of us fumble and stumble as we try to learn new apps and new ways of using digital tools.
Nevertheless, the effort is worth it. Keeping up to date, or at least attempting to keep up to date, provides us with avenues to have conversations with our children about things that matter to them. They may not listen and they may not want to have those conversations, but we need to make them appropriately uncomfortable so that they do not get themselves into a situation from which they cannot find a way out.
Studies have found that about one out of every five or 10 teens — guys and girls — has sent sexually suggestive pictures. And about one out of every three to eight teens has received them. Any parent who has a teenager or a child approaching the teen years needs to have a conversation about what is appropriate and what is not. That conversation needs to include statements of support for the times that they will make mistakes.
Our children are going to make mistakes. I did when I was young. However, when I was young, my mistake was not broadcast to hundreds or thousands of others via a text or tweet or an image on Snap Chat. Now when a child makes a mistake, it seems like the whole world finds out. Our children need us to support them when they make mistakes and help them learn how to not make that mistake again.
As parents, we need to embrace technology. I may not like it, I may not understand it completely, but I certainly need to be aware of it and the impact it has on my child.
My rant is over. I set aside my curmudgeonly ways. I now return to Twitter and Facebook to see what trouble I can get in (just kidding!).