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?