Tag Archives: online

Full disclosure with kids

In this day and age it seems as if no one has any secrets any more. Facebook and twitter and blogs and texting – well, some people use the internet to record every waking moment, every thought, every event. With some of the new applications out there, you can even update your location with maps and everything. (I briefly signed up to foursquare. I deleted the app from my Blackberry yesterday. Not for me).

Some of my friends have their kids as Facebook friends. I don’t allow my children to have Facebook accounts, so I am not worried that they will read something on my page I don’t want them to see. In fact, I won’t add a friend’s kid unless they are over 18 and I know them well.

Our kids are used to knowing everything real time. But how much is too much information? We sit down and talk to our children about the dangers of drugs and smoking. It has to be an honest conversation if we want them to really understand the consequences of certain types of behaviour. But then again, if you were a pot-head as a teen – and your child / teen asks you if you ever inhaled – do you tell them the truth? Perhaps a sanitized version? Perhaps the truth with a huge disclaimer along the lines of “we didn’t realize back then what consequences it could have had, and now I regret it”?

I have told my kids that smoking is bad for them. They know their grandfather smoked a heck of a lot and died at a young age. They also know that if I ever caught them smoking they would be in trouble. “It isn’t the cigarettes that would kill us, Ima would kill us first”. But it’s totally hypocritical of me. As a 17 year old starting college I smoked. Silk Cuts to be precise. For 3 months. I tried hard but I couldn’t get addicted. Thank God!! If the kids ask me if I ever smoked do I tell them the truth? That I did it to fit it with all the other students who were puffing away? That it did nothing for me except make my clothes and breath smell? Or do I lie and say I never smoked? I try so hard to be honest and open with my children – but where do you draw the line?

How about disclosing a previous marriage? Do kids need to know about that? Sometimes people have had a “starter marriage” – first marriage, totally wrong for each other, lasted all of 10 seconds, everyone moved on to bigger and better things, leaving just a tiny little blip on the horizon. Do children of the subsequent marriage have a right to know about the first one? Is it any of their business? Is it a part of what makes them who they are, or is it not necessary to their life? I have a couple of friends who had babies in their teens as unwed mothers and gave them up for adoption, moved on with their lives, got married, had more kids – when do those kids need to know about their mother’s story? Never? What if that child comes looking for his / her biological parent?

As the children get older the boundaries seem to blur a little – their maturity level makes them more understanding and trustworthy. They can handle uncomfortable truths. But does that mean we need to share all those family secrets that we have been withholding up until now? How much is too much?

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Why call when you can email?

I have noticed amongst many of my contemporaries that we are using the phone less and less to communicate with each other. The emails and IMs fly fast and furious. If friends are on twitter or facebook, even better. In fact, I probably communicate with most people in my life primarily online – other than my husband and kids.

I have got to the point that if I have a business call to make, I will check to see if I could possibly email instead. It isn’t that I hate the phone…..but with email there is a record of everything discussed. Ok, maybe I do hate the phone a little – possibly has something to do with a fear of confrontation, especially with important business / school calls. Perhaps a fear of saying the wrong thing? With an email I can take my time to word it and reword it until I am happy with what it says.

I speak to the KoD at least once per day, usually for an hour or more. But the KoD is the exception, rather than the rule. When we were dating we spoke for 5 hours nightly. Glad we finally got married – I needed the sleep!! I talk to my immediate family on the phone too. Although, with Gmail chat with video – it’s even easier to communicate – and you can see them too.

Are you like this? Why do you think this is? Are we just lazy or anti-social or is it just infinitely easier to shoot someone an email than use the phone?

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Computer Filters

We are planning on setting up a computer for the kids to use, probably once we get down to Monsey full time. The school my boys attend here doesn’t require the boys to do any online research, or much homework at all, so they have no pressing reason to be online. I allow them to check email a few times a week, but am always watching where they go online. Maybe I am a little over protective in this regard, but knowing what’s out there, monitoring them isn’t so wrong.

The schools they will be attending will need more from the kids in the way of homework and research papers and projects and won’t be anti-internet. So the boys will need access to the ‘net. I want them to not feel I am looking over their shoulder all the time, but not be free to go wherever they want to online.

I know there are filters out there that you can tailor to fit your personal preferences – and that can text you or email you when the child tries to access a site he is not cleared for. KoD set one of those up for friends, and he has the technological know how and experience to set this up for us. (phew, because there are some things which this mama cannot do). Which filters do you use, how easy are they for the kids to hack, how easy are they for me to use, if I want to change access to a denied page for the kids? Someone once suggested to me that installing filters means you don’t trust your child to follow your rules. I do trust my children, but I know how much temptation there is out there in cyberspace and I would hate for any of our kids to get sucked into something that they don’t know how to handle.

I guess each child would have different access permissions? Can you set it up like that? What do you do in your house? How does it work? And let me just add on another question. With four kids in the house full time, the other 3 there sometimes – how do you set up a computer schedule so that everyone is happy, without resorting to buying a few laptops?

Thanks.

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