Til death do they part. Our children and the internet.

I grew up in a world which has disappeared. My past is just that, my past. It happened and it is over. I lived a colourful life most especially when I was at school as I did not conform very well. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/misternorris/6490205273/">Mister Norris</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
However as far as my children are concerned I worked hard, never skipped a class or a day, always did my homework, and studied well. Thankfully there is no evidence to the contrary, because in my day there was no internet.

Today one of my daughters came home from school and said they had had a talk on the dangers of the internet. She is sixteen, that age where many who come to the school to give talks to them, may well feel they have entered the lions den.

However she told me it was a really good talk. The woman who gave it works within the prison system. She explained to them that it only takes five minutes for someone to take every photo and detail from them, while they are engaging with them.

They were also shown pictures of different people. Some outside their houses. She then went on to show them how that persons house can be identified, by figuring out where they go to school, or hang out etc. She explained to them that some of those she met in prison had burgled houses having read that people were going away for the night or on holiday.

She also told them that no matter what they do everything they post will last forever.

She then asked them had they ever posted anything they really wished they hadn’t. There were some smiles but no hands went up. Then she said to them that the school had okayed her to check out some of their facebook pages, and she had discovered that not all were as private as they thought.

They began to get uneasy. “Well?”, she said, “I’ll ask again, are there any of you who have posted something you really wish you hadn’t?”. They said nothing. “Well, I have here just one picture from one of your facebook pages and I can assure you this person cannot be proud of this”.

She looked around. “Put up your hand if you are now worried this might be from your profile”. My daughter said a lot of hands went up. The speaker began to smile, “Here it is”, and she showed them an empty slide.
However it was a point well made. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/constantine-graphics/3859971253/">Constantine Belias</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

There is another final point she made which I admit surprised me.
She spoke to them about how easy it was for them to end up on the sex register. It took an inappropriate comment or photo, sent in error to someone, or sent to someone they thought was older and they would be under investigation. She remarked on the numbers engaged in cyber sex and how unsafe that is.

As I listened quietly to all this, inside I was spinning. Burglary, cyber sex, bullying, facebook, stalkers,
my children really do live in a world I do not know or recognise. I am so incredibly grateful that I grew up without the internet. My mistakes are in the past and I can pretend they never happened. My children will only know the me I want them to know, and I can happily draw a line in the sand between my past and my present.

What of my future?

I myself am a part of the internet now. Not only is my blog out there, but other parts of my life are also visible. I purposely do not post photos of myself or my family, as I have no idea what my children would think of that in years to come, nor am I comfortable that strangers would look at them. In years to come will it be possible for future employers to put together a profile from baby days upwards?  We have no idea what the possibilities are. As it is I share a lot of my life here, maybe I will regret that in years to come, or maybe my children will.

There is no doubt that the internet has changed our worlds. Largely for the better. However as I look at my children I remember what I was up to at their ages, and I am oh so grateful that there was no internet.
More specifically, I am so thankful that there are none of my memories out there, no moments I wish had never happened, no inappropriate photos, and no comments I wish I had never made.

As for my children their past will never be past. Every moment they live they leave a cyber footprint, which will follow them wherever they go. Until death do they part.

I hope they know what they are dealing with, but I think in truth none of us really do.

photo credit: Constantine Belias via photopin cc
photo credit: Mister Norris via photopin cc

20 thoughts on “Til death do they part. Our children and the internet.

  1. Wonderful article! I also don’t post pictures of myself or my family for all to see because I worry about the cyber footprint. The internet is a wonderful place but also extremely sinister in places, so glad it wasn’t part of my life in my teens!

    1. Thanks. I laughed at your name as I am that “lily white” character to my children. All I have to do is keep them away from my mom, she is my internet equivalent!

  2. it is really sad and scary to think about and i worry for my children and grandchildren too. i’m happy my children don’t know half the things i did!

  3. I know what you mean about wondering what you’ll think of your blog in years to come. I worry that I will look back, and it will be like when I look back at an old diary…mortifying. Of course I try to be more conscious what I’m posting on the blog but still, we grow and change.

  4. Great article. The changes the internet has made on our children is really profound. One of the hardest things is trying to explain privacy to them. It’s natural for kids to want attention, to be on display, but thanks to the internet, they now have no idea why privacy might be important. I have a heck of time trying to explain things like human dignity and personal boundaries to them. The 4th amendment, the right to be secure in your papers and persons, is completely unfamiliar to them. Socially, culturally, people are really changing.

  5. I, too, am grateful that I grew up without the Internet, and I worry about how it will affect my children. They are too young to use it now, but when they do–how to monitor it? How to shield them from things that they should not see? How to teach moderation? Scary stuff.

  6. Isn’t it funny that instead of being in awe or being jealous that we didn’t have this technology, we know how lucky we are to have not! The sad truth is that many children of the future will never really understand what they are missing.
    Awesome post.

  7. A great post from you as always Tric.
    I did also grow up without internet and my kids are adult now. My daughter has used internet for many years and she also knows how to protect herself. My son use it very rare, he doesn’t feel so comfortable with it.
    I think that the best we can do to help our kids, are to teach them how to use the net and not. Great your daughter had these in the school too.
    About ourselves I feel, that I act honest and try to stay positive, don’t use the net in a bad way, I think 😀

  8. My children are adults now and generally handle their Facebook data/posts carefully. What saddens, for lack of a better word, me is that the younger one—who is loaded with anxiety—is so “worried” that everything s/he posts is “just right” and doesn’t “offend” anybody…and these posts are actually very innocuous and positive. This child’s anxiety is not linked solely to Facebook, of course, but it does bring up the question, I feel, of how much we, whether teenagers or adults, long for peer approval and recognition. Social media continues to evolve; it’s usage is so ingrained in all of us, that the future is already here in that there soon will be a time when no one can fathom that there was a time when we didn’t have such a love/hate/love relationship with it.

  9. Tric I so completely agree with you. NOT having the internet and all of it’s baubles is something our kids have no way of understanding. While I was reading this I was emphasizing your points in my head. I know from talking to younger friends and family, and seeing what they put on the internet, that they are not aware of the side effects of posting their lives on line. (And have made a commitment to change a few things of my own.)

  10. Scary stuff. It’s enough to make thou want to bubble wrap your kids and hide them away.
    My kids don’t have Facebook accounts, Twitter or anything else along those lines. I don’t publish photos of my family on Facebook, and avoid doing it on my blog too.

  11. Wonderful blog, I think about the pics of my children grandchildren. who’s pics i”ve posted and wonder…….Sorry about my absent on your blog but my e-mail hates me for the past few days,,they say they are working on it but who knows

      1. no e-mail is still acting crazy. I know I’m not getting some blogs I like to read…I know you have written more than I have received and I’ve do everything I can think of to fix it. So I called the help line for yahoo and they were not available….message said try later experiencing problems.

  12. Scary….. 😦 I had a cyber stalker (a woman) who abused her work position to get my address and mobile number.. freaked me out!!

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