This post is part of The 1 Word Blog Challenge. This week’s word: Lost
I definitely feel lost most of the time in parenting. With the first child it’s so much trial-and-error, but then you think once you’ve been through it, it’ll be easier the next time around. And then the next kid is so entirely different (and the world has changed so much already) that all the things you thought you figured out go flying right out the window.
Let’s talk about the Internet. Good glory, people. We are the first generation of parents who have to navigate the constantly-changing world of the internet and screen devices. New social media sites appear regularly. Just when we think we have some things figured out, like twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, the kids all jump to a new program. Program? App? What’s it even called? We are the parents who learn about the internet from our kids. The internet – Unlimited access to everything. Many adults can’t even handle the vastness of the internet. How easy is it to start off on facebook, click on some interesting looking article to read or video to watch, then find another link over there to investigate, and then another and another until you’ve been “surfing” for hours. Do they even call it surfing anymore?
I remember the first time we got “the internet” as a teenager, oh about 20 or so years ago (has it really been that long? It only feels like about 5 or 6 years). We had AOL and it used our phone line to access it. Remember the days of “dial up”? I can still hear that squeeeeeedingding song it would sing while trying to connect. You couldn’t use the phone and the internet at the same time.
I was 23 when I got my first cell phone. Remember those first Noika phones? At that time I vowed to use it only at home, to treat it just like I would a land-line. (We didn’t even have the word land-line then, it was just “the phone.”) I would take it with me for emergencies, but I wouldn’t just be on the phone in public because that wasn’t NORMAL. It seemed frivolous and invasive and unnecessary. Now it’s not normal to NOT have a cell phone. And it’s perfectly normal (though sometimes annoying) to see someone talking on their phone in any and all public places. Not only that, but we can access the ENTIRE INTERNET ON OUR PHONES. You guys, it’s truly amazing. I am in awe at the technological advances that have been made, not just in my life time, but even in my adulthood.
Remember that video phone booth on Peewee’s Playhouse? I thought that was the coolest thing EVAH! Now we have skype and facetime. I can video chat with my brother on the other side of the world ON MY PHONE, from anywhere I want to be – at home, at a friend’s house, at the coffee shop, the park, Target (that would be weird, but it’s possible). It’s unbelievable.
Then again… as parents, it’s kind of scary. Things have changed even between my 1st and 2nd children. There is an 8 year gap between them. When the oldest got her first cell phone it was a little blackberry-type thing. Talk and text only. Do they even have those anymore? I don’t even know if they had smart phones then, it was about 8 or 9 years ago. Texting was just becoming mainstream, especially for the kids and young adults, which I was apparently neither. I thought it was so annoying, she would just text and text and text. I couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t just call each other.
My 2nd daughter is now 9, and she saved her money for about 8 months and bought herself an iPod touch. I told her that if she was responsible enough to save that much money, then she could buy one. But now that she has one… I really do feel a bit lost as to how to handle it. I’m making up the rules as we go. She has some games and a texting app. No social media, no browser. We have had talks about internet safety. On the weekends she gets to use it for an hour a day. On school nights she can do an extra chore to earn 10 minutes of time on it (I’m loving that!). So for now, she is very limited in what she is allowed to do on her iPod. But I have no frame of reference by which to guide her into the cyber world. There’s no “This is how my parents did it with me, and it worked just fine,” or on the opposite hand, “This is what my parents did and I don’t feel like it worked, so I’m going to try something else. It’s just a big, black hole that constantly changes shape. No matter how I try to navigate it, I’m just… lost.