Hi and Welcome to the A & J PEI Treasures E Jean Simpson Author Blog Post and Podcast. I’m your host, Jean usually coming to you from the beautiful Province of Prince Edward Island, Canada!! This week, I am on the road live from our neighbours in New Brunswick, Canada! The blog post and podcast is an opinion piece and only reflects this author’s opinion and not that of any other entity. Today I discuss something that we really need to give some consideration to. If you want to find out more, then stay tuned…!
As a kid, when we walked out the door, the question was always where are you going? Who are you going to be with? When do we expected you home or alternatively be home by supper? Or some variation thereof. As we got older, it shorted to who we were going to be with. In those days it was a lot easier than it is now. Now, your teens and tweens could be online with anyone…literally. They could be watching anything, literally. Do you know what your kids are up to? The questions and answers that were there when I was a teen and tween had very easy answers. I’m not even sure what questions are being asked now.
I know that there needs to be a more serious look at the questions we ask our tweens and teens. I’m not sure if parents are as aware of the issues that could be coming up. I remember hearing about a girl in my old home town…she got in a truck with someone and was never seen alive again https://globalnews.ca/news/8107697/bathurst-nb-mourns-madison-roy-boudreau-homicide-investigation/. This was a terrible tragedy for the family and her friends. We need to look at how to prevent these tragedies . To date they haven’t found her. (correction from misinformation or misreading article – apologies to family and friends of the victim.) If you have any information contact the RCMP. They want to bring her home! What we need to understand is, it doesn’t bring back this life. She was too young to be getting involved with a grown man. There is always the ‘privacy’ of your kids and trusting your kids issue. However, kids in the tween and teen years are not necessarily processing using adult brain functioning. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/10/teen-maturity and there seems to be differing ages between 16-21 according to this wikki article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maturity_(psychological) and https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/02/18/at-what-age-is-the-brain-fully-developed/ . So, this is important to consider when you are concerned about your child’s welfare. Privacy is good for some things. Taking with friends, etc. Know who their friends are.
Recently locally, I have seen an article where a 14 year old child was lying about her age and got involved with a 23 year old man https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/pei-mounties-arrest-23-year-old-man-for-assaulting-14-year-old-girl-1.4209386 . The other girl that was murdered that I discuss from my old home town, she was also similar age. Neither has the mental maturity to deal with the issues that were caused by their choices. These are not the only cases. They pop up on even a rudimentary search. A lot of these meet these people online that the parents don’t know and never met. It is not only girls that are victimized. There are also males in the same age range. They get a steady diet of TV shows and videos that glorify relationships, yet they don’t have the mental maturity to think through the end results of their actions. They don’t think that so and so who talks with them online might be older, might be prone to doing harm, that they might be hurt or worse. I don’t want to make parents paranoid, but it’s not easy to raise teens and tweens and the last thing you want to find out is that they’ve been sending sexts and pictures of suggestive nature around the internet. Their life depends on having some interest in their online life.
Now, I will take flack for this if anyone feels that strongly about a 14 year old’s privacy, but I would rather a safe and angry 14 year old than an injured or dead one any day. Parents seem to think it is imperative that they be the best buddy of their tween and teen. I can tell you from experience as a tween or teen. I have a lot more respect for my mother for her teaching boundaries and not always trying to be my best friend. She taught me that I needed to think through my actions. It didn’t happen over night. It was a job that my mother took seriously. If we did something in school, as a school teacher she knew it. She took classes at night with other teachers some of whom were our teachers. She was in no way a severe mother nor was she nosy. She did know who are friends were. She either knew the parents of the friends or met them. She made sure we knew the difference between right and wrong before we left home for University. What we did thereafter was our responsibility and I know in my later teens, I didn’t always make stellar decisions.
I remember her taking me to a bank and making me do a withdrawal or deposit and making sure I could fill out the paperwork. She had been embarrassed for the mother of another kid that had gone to University before me and they discovered she didn’t know how to do it. Mom learned from the mistakes of others as well as from her own. She was not a strict disciplinarian, but if she knew something, like there was a child coming on the bus that might be given a rough time she would instruct us to be nice to them. If there was a child unlikely to get a valentine, she instructed us to make one for them as well. At our house everyone in our class got a Valentine from us, for example. Some of you like to call it Christian Charity, others call it common decency, no matter what you call it, there needs to be more of it.
Please, parents, learn from the mistakes of other parents. Learn from the disasters that have happened to other children. Make sure you know who your kids are interacting with. They might just be nice people, but if they start sending ‘sexual messaging’ or start asking for inappropriate things, then you need to be able to step in and quick. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, there must be some legitimate way of doing this as a parent. If you are at a loss, check with your local internet providers. Your children’s safety is everyone’s business and MOST especially your business. Support your child. If they are different for some reason, make sure they aren’t being bullied or learning to bully. Make sure that they are interacting with appropriate ages. Older people might act as role models, but keep an eye on this that it doesn’t become manipulated. Despite the number of shows that they did showing kids getting the tar scared out of them for leaving strangers in the house or dangers of sexting etc. Kids seem to think they are indestructible. They think it won’t happen to them because they are smarter or more mature or more capable of taking care of themselves. If they are not taught responsibility, that they are responsible for what they say or do. If they are not capable of understanding reality. If your kid is adult age, but there are special needs that put them at risk, they will need a bit of supervision.
According to this article, it is within bounds to do some monitoring of your child’s social media and there are some ideas in the article. I think when it comes to safety, if you think that your child is potentially going to endanger themselves or others, then one needs to be aware but not everyone agrees to what extent. https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/communicating-relationships/family-relationships/privacy-trust-teen-years.
So, parents, I ask you, are you comfortable with your tween or teen corresponding with someone who is much older? Kids have always had the propensity to inflate their age. They want to be grown up. On the side of the parents, we want to make sure they do grow up…in their own time. They don’t have the skills to stay out of trouble and if unmonitored, it can result in trouble. They can even agree to meet people they barely know. When should you start working with your kids and their social media? I think you need to start working with your kids from birth. If you do, you’ll never regret it. Show them proper life boundaries. You are the ones that have to do the training. You do it by your actions. If you want better kids, you need to be better people. Not everything is that cut and dried. I know that some parents do everything and still there are issues. No one said parenting is easy, but avoid some of the pitfalls from the beginning.
As Sanam Saeed said, “We need to start identifying the triggers that aggravate mental health issues in our society – bullying, social media negativity and anxiety, gender based violence, substance abuse, stigma around issues such as maternal issues, etc., and we need to speak up about these more and get to the source of the problems.” These could fill another day. Social media does have its place in our society. It should not be the babysitter, it should not be the only place that your kids go. Have them develop interests and abilities outside of the internet. Have them develop friendships.
As I said earlier, I don’t want to frighten parents, however, I do want them to be aware for themselves and their children that not everyone is who they appear to be online. I’ve seen profiles of people whose pictures are computer generated. Not everyone are who they say they are. I spend some time online as part of the A & J PEI Treasures day. If I can see fake profiles, computer generated profile pictures, then be aware that they are out there. The internet is not all bad. There are a lot of things that people can use to learn. There are puzzles and craft ideas for example. There is a cornucopia of information. At the same time there is a cornucopia of misinformation. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Thanks for listening to my podcast and/or reading my blog post and thanks for your interest in A & J PEI Treasures!
What are Your Under Age Kids Up to? – E Jean Simpson, BEd, BA, MA Author A & J PEI Treasures
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