The Talk 2.0

Last week, during Jon Acuff’s Blissdom keynote, he said something that really struck me. Parents have been having The Talk — birds & the bees — with kids for years, but we’re the first generation who has to have a digital footprint talk. And, that is a true story.

When the teen first got on Facebook, we had a conversation with her on dos & don’ts. We covered cyberbullying. We covered inappropriate behavior. We covered deleting posts & internet caching (Google never forgets!). And, we covered our own (newly created) digital rules—she has to be friends with us so we can keep an eye on things, we get all her passwords, and if she ever changes them, the account is gone completely.

We decided it was time to have the talk again. We covered all the same stuff, but this time—after a year of experience behind her—she was more able to participate in the discussion. We talked about passive-aggressive status updates. We talked about sexting. We talked about private messages not always staying private. We talked about photos, videos, and how once you put them out there? You can’t take them back.

I learned that she gets it, but she had questions. The biggest was about vague updates—why is it wrong, if no one knows who it’s about? Well, because someone will know. We had to make it clear to her that anything she puts online can be shared by her 100 friends who can share it with their 100 friends who can share it with their 100 friends. (“Okay, okay, I get it Mom!”)

I don’t think kids really get that even if they delete a status or a photo, it doesn’t mean someone else didn’t already copy/paste it, share it or take a screenshot. As soon as you publish it, it’s just out there. Forever. I’m thankful to Jon Acuff (and a recent incident in one of the hubby’s online communities) for the reminder to discuss it again and make it clearer to our teen.

It’s definitely a whole new world for these kids. Have you had the digital talk yet?

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Article by justheather

Heather Sokol is the married mother of 4 amazing, active children. They have created in her a Sports Mom, Scout Mom, Allergy Mom & avid coupon clipper. Is that miscellaneous enough for you? She shares her deals & tips at Inexpensively.com and reports progress on learning to be a grownup at JustHeather.com. justheather tagged this post with: , Read 91 articles by
2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Heather Sokols Daughter says:

    Ya, In truth I still don’t get why vagueness is wrong, because what if I’m talking about me? Like, how I am feeling? If I don’t want to say what angered me earlier or something like that, why can’t I say, “I am NOT happy.” that’s very vague, not saying who what why or when I was unhappy, jut that I am. Or I could say,”Gross.” and nobody would know if I was talking about the green beans you fed me for dinner (gross, btw), if somebody sneezed in my face, if i fell in a pile of compost, anybody could assume anything. That is vague, but is it wrong?

  2. That is a good question, Heather Sokols Daughter :) The problem is that people are naturally self-focused, so people will interpret vagueness to apply to them specifically. If you say Gross about green beans, but someone else just posted a photo, they might think you were referring to them.

    One example that comes up in our business meetings (adults are still learning this stuff) is that if I post “so glad to be home after a killer day”, the last client I talked to (or the person who THINKS they are the last client I talked to) will think that I am frustrated by them, when I’m probably talking about the fact that the printer jammed three times.

    Also, I have noticed that teens generally ask Why or What when it is a vague status update, so you will be cornered into either 1) not being vague or 2) responding via a PM which can make other people feel left out. It’s just a lose-lose scenario.

    P.s. I’m posting this on Facebook for all of my teen cousins to read!

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