Now that Evan is older, a question I am frequently asked is, “How are you going to handle the situation when Evan starts reading your books, watching your movies, and (gasp!) looking at your Playboy spreads?” To which I abruptly answer, “I discourage his desire to read!”
While that is obviously a joke and clearly not the case, I don’t actually know how I will handle these situations. And with the Internet fast becoming a world we share with our children, information about YOU is quite accessible to your little darlings.
Just the other week I had a friend tell me about how her son, who happens to be close to Evan’s age, asked to have his own Instagram account. Since she considers herself to be pretty social-media savvy, she agreed, and doled out a long, tedious list of rules that needed to be followed. She really thought she had all of her i’s dotted and t’s crossed by asking him to lock his account, supply her with his password and for them to follow each other’s accounts. When he posted the obligatory picture of their cat wearing sunglasses, she “liked” his picture, mostly as a warning to him that said, ‘I’m watching what you’re posting!’
Shortly after, his little classmates started “liking” his picture, too. Then these same little angels began liking my friend’s pictures, following her account and commenting on everything of hers. If this gal was a G-rated Suzy Homemaker, this could be OK. But she is my friend, so of course she isn’t, and has some written content on the Internet that’s not quite appropriate for a child. I mean, what else is Twitter for?
In the midst of her freak out, she explained to me how it felt as if two completely different worlds were colliding, and she was in no way prepared for that yet. Her own children were well versed in who she is and some of the PG-13 crazy she puts out there, but not other peoples’ children, and she now struggles with diluting her sense of humor for the benefit of other people’s kids.
Of course next comes the question of parental responsibility and guidance on the World Wide Web. Certainly we know we need to help and support our own children as they navigate the web, but do we need to change who we are online to accommodate what other peoples’ children may or may not find? And if we do this, does this go against how we teach our children to be themselves and never second guess what truly makes them happy? Definitely something to think about.
If you have children, how do you manage your online voice?