My middle school daughter does NOT have a cell phone. Shocking…I know. It isn’t for some radical anti-technology stance that we have, but we don’t feel she really needs one yet. It’s a distraction, it’s expensive, and we want her to learn to be responsible with “a little” before she gets “a lot.”
At Christmas, she got a Kindle Fire. In part because we wanted her to start on “a little,” and because her school was going to be implementing BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) days where they would be able/required to use their devices for class projects.
We carefully laid out the family rules for her, and told her that, since we paid for it and it was technically ours, we could spot check the device at any given time. She agreed, albeit she wasn’t too happy about the spot checking rule.
She’s a big fan of anime and even writes her own fan fiction, and she’s actually pretty good at both. She and her friends like to go on a website called Quotev, and take quizzes and read other fan fictions. Again, we’re okay with that.
But the other day she came to me and wanted to open her own Quotev account so that she could chat with a friend of hers. (I still wonder whatever happened to picking up a phone now and then, but I digress.)
Before I agreed, I wanted to more about Quotev, so I did my own research to see how “safe” it was for teens. I searched through message boards and reviews and anything else I could find. Then my husband and I agreed that she could create an account.
Imagine my surprise, when I sat down with her to create an account, that her unique user name was already taken. Hmmmm…the alarm went off in my head. Turns out she ALREADY HAD an account and had been using it for several weeks. Apparently, she felt guilty, and wanted to, in her own way, purge herself of that guilt by asking for an account after the fact.
Needless to say, we were disappointed that she hadn’t come to us first, but also a little glad to know that her conscience had gotten the better of her.
After much discussion, and realizing that no matter how many restrictions we put on our kids’ technology use, they’re going to do what they want to when we’re not there. We CAN’T follow their every move, no matter how much we want to. We did it when we were their age, the only difference is that we had to actually leave the house to experience the world, and now the world comes to them in the comfort of their own home.
After explaining that we didn’t think technology was “evil,” but that we just want her to make wise choices, we agreed to let her keep the account. Besides, she would have just made another account without us knowing.
Turns out she just wanted to get some peer review of her drawings and fan fiction. Mom and Dad’s review is always appreciated, but it’s not the same. It also opened up dialogue between her and me regarding writing. She even let me read some of her Quotev reviews of her artwork.
Actually, I’m a little jealous that she has a venue to post stories and get immediate feedback. Being a writer myself, I would love to get that sort of instantaneous input regarding my novels.
So I guess the door is wide open. No more reason to sneak around behind mom and dad’s backs is necessary. Oh, if only that were true.