As we embark upon the next generation, my husband and I find ourselves contemplating a gadget for Addie’s second birthday. So many items get reduced in price at the beginning of the year to make way for new things, that it seems justifiable. New items that offer interactive play, a way to learn and lessons in limits. And Wi-Fi.
So this brings me to the top 5 lessons I want to teach my toddler before handing over parental controlled technology:
1. You can’t erase the internet. You can erase a link, so maybe an error message will show, but there’s always that screen shot someone took, or the boss who saw the tweet. The thumbnail of the picture is always available to search. Your anger at your friend, or boy/girlfriend, your teacher, your parents- it’s all out there. Of all the embarassement I’m sure to cause you, don’t let your own words bite you in the bum. “Problems with authority” is a reason people don’t want you to work for their company… that translates into the post you made your freshman year of college: F*%k that teacher. A 500 word paper on a dead language is bull#*^t. One, in college they are professors, and two, 500 words is a blessing for a paper. Suck. It. Up. Think before you write and please, please- when it doubt, shut off all technology and walk away! Also: Don’t take pictures at the party. Don’t allow for tagging without your permission. Keep your profiles private and your clothes on. All of your clothes. The spilled milk at the 4th birthday will be a spilled beer at your 10th grade “sleep over” where the “parents are there”. I’ve been there, too- only I had film and my Mom paid for it to be developed and saw the pictures before I did. She gave me the lessons I needed to learn without my future employers ever seeing the shame. What you post on the internet is ALWAYS THERE. You think it’s cool and fun now, but there are companies hired to vet you. They will find these pictures in 10 years. You will not get hired. You will also not live at my house because you can’t get a job due to your social media profiles.
2. Don’t give out your information to anyone and turn off location on things like Facebook and Twitter. Bad people are out there- I won’t sugarcoat it- don’t grant them access to you. If someone asks you directly for personal information, this includes what you look like, where you live or go to school, what kind of car we drive, your middle name, your phone number… anything- you tell me! I will never be upset with you for asking me what is or is not OK- I will be incredibly saddened if something were to happen to you.
3. There’s always new stuff coming out- that doesn’t mean what you have is worthless, and we are not parents to do your bidding with the devil. Appreciate your lot in life, you don’t need the new iPod. In fact, you don’t need an iPod at all- don’t make me prove it.
4. If it pops up, don’t click it. End. Of. Story.
5. Ask. You have so many questions… let’s find the answer together. Google is wonderful, but don’t forget: we can go to the library, bookstore or outside to learn many lessons, too.
What are you teaching your kids to keep them internet savvy and safe?