I honestly don’t think most parents have a clue just how advanced and multi-faceted and complex and mind-boggling it is to ponder just what today’s “tweens” (i hate that term…) are getting into online – and it has nothing to do with pedophiles and creeps.
This article in the NYT is a must read but I am going to pull a few key chunks below. It follows a mother’s step through the lookingglass and into the world of alternate realities her 10-year-old daughter inhabits. Prior to diving in the mother already admitted:
“Already, when Clementine plays online Scrabble, she tells her opponents she is a French single mother of twins (Jacques and Pierre) and has recently moved stateside to improve her English. And at Zwinky.com, another of her haunts, she pretends to be a college student in a dorm.”
Let’s try to overlook the fact that she named her kid Clementine and accept that her kid is on the edge of precocious. Instead, look what happens when they get online together:
” But before I had finished the thought, Clementine had figured out how to take us to a planet called Funkitron. Then, as terrible pop music began blaring, she coolly scrolled through the selections of an onscreen jukebox (where did that come from? I still don’t know) to change the tune.
“Now what are you doing?” I asked, as she clicked on a little box.
“I’m buying hair,” she said, adding with a frown that they don’t have much choice.
Next she clicked quickly and intuitively through all the features on the menu bar before concluding: “This site is made for kids, not teenagers. See how you see your person onscreen as a little kid?” In other words, it was w-a-a-a-y too uncool to be aspirational for 10-year-olds who read Seventeen magazine (but who won’t read it in seven years). ”
If you have a kid and you haven’t asked them for a tour of their life online then you are missing out on a big part of your own kid’s life.