As a mom of a two and a half year old, I have come to appreciate my smart phone - sometimes it's my only hope if I want to have a productive trip to the grocery store. Lucas loves the apps that are helping him learn his shapes, alphabet, colors, numbers and more. He is even better than I am at games like Angry Birds and Temple Run - it’s amazing how quickly he has picked up on technology and the way he can navigate through my phone. But, his favorite app is YouTube because he can look up silly videos about trains or monster trucks and watch some of his favorite shows like Pokoyo and Spiderman.
However, as we all know, there is a lot of material on YouTube that you don’t want your toddler viewing. So, as a parent, I strictly monitor what Lucas is watching and playing with on my phone. Granted, he is two, but I think it is becoming increasingly important for parents of children of all ages to know what their kids are up to on their cell phones.
A new study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy says that 20% of teens are now sexting – the practice of sending sexually explicit text messages to others. Because of my job this didn’t surprise me too much, but as a mother I hope this news will serve as a wakeup call to parents. Yes, I know teens need their privacy, and when Lucas gets to that stage in his life where he wants to go to his room and shut the door, I will come to grips with it. But, what teens also need is a parent – a parent who cares enough about their child to take a look at his/her text messages; a parent who cares enough to sign up for Facebook so they can monitor what is happening on their son/daughter’s page. A parent who cares enough to have difficult conversations.
No, as parents we aren’t always going to be our kids’ best friend. At times, they may really resent us; but I think that is what being a parent is all about. I remember times growing up when I thought, “my parents just don’t understand” or “this is so unfair”, but looking back, I now know it was called love. My parents cared enough about me and my future to set boundaries, to check in on those boundaries, and to talk to me about my friends and boyfriend (who is now my husband J).
Teens are going to make mistakes along the way; heck, adults are going to make plenty of mistakes, but if I can educate my child on our family values, on the ways that improper use of cell phones and social media can hinder him from reaching his goals; I am going to do it – even if he doesn’t want to hear it.
By Cayci Banks, Director of Communications for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
(Editor’s “Cheeky” Note: Someone in the Royal Family should care enough too! Latest scandal with Royal Family and Prince Harry is enough to show how dangerous data plans and camera phones can be! Don’t be like the Royals…keep up with your kids and teach them responsibility with their online presence!)