Writing the Rule Book on Parenting in the Digital Age

Momservation: I did not sign up to be the forefather on Rules of Engagement for notifying a parent their kid is requesting nude pics.

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text screenshotCan we talk?

Is it just me or are you parents of teenagers also thinking it’s unfair that the rules of parenting teenagers have changed so drastically?

I would gladly take the I-Hope-You-Have-One-Just-Like-You Curse and at least get home field advantage and insider knowledge on how to parent an aloof, boy-obsessed, room-bound teenage girl over navigating the shark infested waters of social media.

The sucky thing is there is no Rule Book for parenting in this evolving every nanosecond digital age. As Allison Slater Tate pointed out in her article “Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything,” we’re the last of the Mohicans. Our parents can’t help us with their experience of raising teens because there was no Internet to contend with. Only we Gen Xers know what it’s like to have experienced worlds both with and without Internet. Our children only know a world with information and accessibility at their fingertips.

Our generation of parents is writing the Rule Book for Parenting in the Digital Age.

And I’m sorry, but I’d rather be dealing with the good ol’ fashion teen crawling back through a window to their bedroom with alcohol on their breath than to be the forefather on what to do when you find out that teenage boys are constantly asking your daughter for “nudes” and “ass pics” through Snapchat with screenshots of girls stupid enough to send them being the modern day text message trading card.

Are you with me that it is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting trying to convince our children of the dangers of a digital world they think we know nothing about? Having never lived in a world without technology they are unable to comprehend that it has never been easier to make a life altering mistake in the unforgiving world of digital footprints that will become the oilfields of the future.

We even have to learn a new language to be fluent with our children. If you don’t know the lingo of the Y2K generation—Vines, screenshots, Photo Vault, Snapchat stories, avi, pc, NIFOC, 53X*—you don’t really know what your children are up to.

It could be argued that really nothing has changed, only the medium of which teens are communicating has. How can I get mad at the poor relationship etiquette of breaking up via text message—when really, how is it any different from the hallway passed note? Or discovering teens under covers talking on their phones past bedtime? They hide under the covers to shield their illuminated screens while texting; I hid under my covers to muffle the sound of my voice. One now has to have their phone charging at night in the kitchen; one got their 20-foot phone cord exchanged for a 3-footer.

But I would argue there is so much more to lose at stake, and thus a new hybrid of sleepless nights with worry. Rumors are now validated with pictures available to anyone with Internet and spread quicker than damage control can be implemented. Instead of a poor choice becoming a private embarrassment it becomes a public hell. Bad decisions can be learned from, but also resurrected to get you rejected for college, a job, even the military. Humiliation is only a click away. Delete doesn’t mean it’s gone. Bullies have so many tools for harassment that suicide seems like the only escape.

OMG! Can I please just find a Playboy under my son’s mattress instead of making sure he isn’t hiding nude pics of girls he knows on his phone that could get him arrested for distributing pornography?

Thanks a lot Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, for making the job description of parenting a teenager even more challenging. I-Hope-You-Have-One-Just-Like-You.


*Vines= 6 second videos on a loop, favorite video sharing medium of teens

Screenshots=way to quickly capture content that then saves to photo roll on phone, favorite way to subvert Snapchat messages that are supposed to disappear after 10 seconds

Photo Vault=an app that locks pictures you don’t want people to see behind coded access

Snapchat stories=latest favorite social medium forum where Snapchat photos and videos can be posted for followers to see for 24 hours

Avi=short for Avatar, the graphic chosen to represent you on a social media site

Pc=Photo Creds, mainly used on Instagram when someone wants photo credit for the picture being posted to someone’s account

NIFOC=Naked In Front Of Computer


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