I only got my daughter an iPhone because of carpool.
In sixth grade, she took a weekend filmmaking class with some older girls, and they all texted each other to come outside when one of their moms pulled up. I didn’t want to get kicked out of carpool, so we relented. But she was just 11. I figured I would stay on top of the texts, emails and what have you. How much can there really be, anyway?
Three months and about 36,000 iMessage threads later, I gave up on the constant monitoring. She’s a really good kid, and it was just far too many emojis to oversee. Then came Instagram. And don’t get me started on that phantom ghost Snapchat, which pops up on your impressionable child’s screen and vanishes before you can spell SUPERVISE.
Next thing you know, she’s 14. A teenager. With boundaries. I would never snoop on her anymore, right? (Insert side-eye emoji here.)
You know Finstagram? It’s Fake Instagram. Your private Instagram account that’s just for your BFFs in, like, the whole world. It’s where you post goofy photos of yourself eating spaghetti on the toilet and use crazy account names like leave.MIA.lone and KATEastrophy.
I swear I had pretty much thrown in my digital watchdog towel. I still don’t know what compelled me to randomly check my daughter’s Finstagram account recently while she was on a sleepover with a BFF-in-like-the-whole-world from summer camp. But when I did, I saw that my aspiring little filmmaker and her friend were making film shorts.
The premise was really funny. Each girl would pick up an object like say, a blanket, look at the camera dramatically and say, All these blankets, but you never gave me warmth. Jump cut to our tragic teen, holding a bunch of phone chargers. All these chargers, but you never gave me 100%. And on and on, each one wittier than then next, until the shot of my daughter’s friend holding her little sister’s “Count to Ten With Me” write-and-erase placemat.
All these numbers, but you never gave me 69.
It was online. For all the world—or at least her 19 Finstagram followers—to see.
There were more.
All these jump ropes, but you never let me jump you.
All these eggs, but I never got laid.
Needless to say, the rest of the night was filled with lectures, tears, and deleting. LOTS of deleting. And I learned something about staying on top of our kids in this ever-growing digital world of free-range content. It’s not possible to see everything, but it’s important to check in. We have to remind our kids that everything they text, post or email is out there, and once it is, they can’t get it back. So if you wouldn’t want your mom reading it, don’t put it on the internet.
Because you know what? Mom will read it.
Not that I would ever snoop on my teen.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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