One of our kids is going to be President. Maybe not my kid or your kid, but one of their friends, or Instagram followers, or someone they met at football camp will become the President of the United States one day. This should scare the crap out of you.
Do you follow your kid on Instagram? What about Snapchat? Don’t worry about Facebook, that’s for old people (like me). Do you follow their friends? I do. And it is eye-opening. My youngest son is a mess and he posts silly things that make me roll my eyes. His friends send me snapchats of themselves with goofy faces and I send them back. I double tap their Instagram photos from time to time. Sometimes I will comment about how pretty they look or that I am proud of them. The other 90% of the time I am mortified.
Studies have shown that so many online relationships result in marriage because 1) the people on dating sites are serious about having a relationship and 2) relationships formed and developed over the internet escalate faster that traditional dating relationships. There is a boldness fostered by the the computer screen. There is a disconnect that makes it easier to share opinions, reach out, flirt, bully, etc. Couple this with the trend of selfie-taking, self-centered young people who are all but attached to their electronic devises and you have a recipe for disaster.
Remember when you couldn’t go on a date until you were old enough to drive? Remember when there had to be a reason to go somewhere, like a school dance? Dating now consists of staking a claim on someone and promoting it on social media. Ten-year-olds are dating. They claim a girlfriend/boyfriend in the classroom, and then have an electronic relationship right under your very nose. Nothing irritates me more than middle school aged children proclaiming their love on social media. (Actually, that’s not true. Reading comments on Instagram where one boy will comment on another boy’s photo, “UR so gay” like that’s an acceptable way to participate in playful trash talk makes my blood boil. Especially when they come from families that have enough sense to teach their children that it isn’t appropriate to use language that demeans any group of people. Change the word from gay to retarded and I will also flip my lid.)
Back to young love. Young girl posts selfie (with or without duck lips) with some overused, cliche hashtag, such as #blessed, and immediately their 14 year old boyfriend will comment something like, “I’m so lucky, bae” [heart-eyed emoji, heart-eyed emoji, heart-eyed emoji]. Or young boy posts photo of he and girl together (usually in the school parking lot) and captions, “Can’t believe it’s been two months” [#blessed]. The girl will quickly comment something like #bae #truelove #justthrewupinmymouth. Oh, wait, not that last one. That was me.
Are you as a parent watching this? Are you showing these exchanges to your own child and explaining to them that this is not how life works? These kids don’t even talk to each other. They text each other. All the time. Have you read a text exchange between a tween-aged couple? Do you read your own child’s texts every day? If not, you should. My twelve year old has a cell phone. Or I should say, he has the use of a cell phone. I pay for it. It is mine. The content on said phone is my responsibility. I check his browser history, text messages, Instagram direct messages; you name it, I’m reading it. But I see these conversations happening openly on Instagram all the time. Where are the parents? Do they really think this is productive behavior? [Sadly, I have seen parents actually condone this by commenting heart-eyed kissy-faced emojis on these posts instead of telling their kid that four months of incessant texting at 13 years old isn’t actually what love is.]
If your 11-15 year old is having three week anniversaries, celebrating their love, texting a significant other four hours a day, and is feeling #blessed in general because of another human in the same age group; start cleaning out your basement. Little Johnny is going to be living in that basement about two semesters into college because he is either A) about to enter into the world with completely unrealistic expectations B) about to be involved in a teen pregnancy C) completely unaware of what happens twenty feet beyond himself D) all of the above. I used to wonder what parents were doing while their kids were behaving like this. But the answer is more than likely staring at a screen themselves. Just this morning I was looking at a Snapchat story consisting of a video taken in a common area. You can clearly hear the parent of the child in the background talking to someone else. They are completely unaware that they are being recorded.
This brings me to my next rant: adults who constantly interact with things/people on their cell phone instead of the living, breathing human next to them. But I will save that one for another day…