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How to talk to teens about the internet

9 Oct

Our boys are delving further into the world of the internet (or as I like to call it in my head, The Webbernitz. I don’t know why.  It’s just how I am.)

But it is important to know what your kids are up to on the webbernitz, the dangers and pitfalls and chat boards full of seriously weird people and fan fiction sites full of bad Twilight romance (which is how we ended up with the whole 50 Shades phenomenon.)

One teen boy has been busy chatting online with friends he met through a game.  Josh has been a good father, checking out the game and chatting systems, and we set down rules.  Basic ones that the boy said “Well duh” to, like “Don’t give out your real phone number and address” and “Don’t meet up with people you don’t know.”   After that came the “no chatting online before homework’s done, or after you go to bed.”  which led to a resigned “Okay.”  from the boy and a promise from us that this was a rule for ALL the under-aged people in this house.

Then we got a little more detailed with the rules – ones that while a bit embarrassing, must be dealt with in today’s age.  Like “don’t send naked pictures out” – which got a “Uh…nooo.”  Then there was the “And if anyone wants to send you a naked picture of themselves, unfriend them and burn your phone, we’ll get you a new one if need be.”

Somewhere around here, we kind of lost control of the conversation – I’ll blame long days and stress.  But it turned into “There’s a lot of strange people on the internet.  A lot.  Granted, some of them are relatives, you can friend them, but you don’t have to instant message them.”  To which the boy says “And if they try to send naked pictures?”

“Then you let us know, beat your phone to death,set it on fire, and change your name.”

And to that, the boy said “That’s okay, I already have five aliases picked out.”

Um…why?

“Well, when you homeschool*, you have a lot of free time to think up things like that.” said the boy.

Yes, just another happy heartfelt family chat in our household this evening.

But the moral is – do talk to your teens about the evils of the webbernitz, creepy naked photo sharing relatives and all.

 

*we homeschooled the boys for a little bit before moving here.  They’ve now experienced public, Catholic and homestyle schooling.  I believe that can be classified as a well-rounded education, right?

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3 Responses to “How to talk to teens about the internet”

  1. wonkafonka October 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Awesome, love it! 🙂

  2. Renee Anne October 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I’m glad you talked to them about caution for the sake of staying out of trouble (like the rule about not sending dirty photos or giving out addresses and such) instead of instilling in their heads that everyone out there is a perv and out to get them.

  3. Danny Hamilton October 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Electronic communications (email, txt, chat, facebook, etc.) can all start to feel “private” after a while. It is easy to start out saying, “I would NEVER type/say/send (insert embarrassing or risky behaviour here)”, and then a few months later completely lose track of that as you are lulled into a false sense of security. I make an effort to remind myself on a regular basis that no matter how private electronic communications feel, they are actually quite public. The phrase I use as a reminder is, “If you would be uncomfortable with that communication being posted along side a picture of yourself on a large billboard on the side of the nearest high-traffic highway for the rest of your life, then don’t send it.” This generally does a pretty good job of covering all the types of behaviour you want to prevent (secrets, bullying, sexual or overly sensual, disrespect, etc.)

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