My son has recently turned 13 and as a very low tech family(living in the woods with limited power, no tv, some computer) I am struggling with the whole issue of mobile phones, facebook, internet acess, rap music…. My son can be very happy outside, working, bushcraft stuff etc. but is feeling under increasing pressure to conform to what he feels is expected of him from his friends. He is at a Steiner school so I am aware these demands are less than possibly in mainstream school. I know the pressure to be the same is acute for him. Should I bow to the inevitability of it all and accept this is what it’s all about for teens today, or try to find a more moderate route?
Any ideas really gratefully received! I’m new this forum so it feels quite exciting to have this potential support
Hi, my daughter is almost eleven, and also at steiner school so we are facing the same issues here! at school it seems the children are quite happy without the technology. Other parents, however, tell me that by class 8 some children are watching films at the cinema and have iPods. A few seem to have phones too.
We use an iPad and iPod at home, my daughter seems happy at the moment and understands that they are tools for adults. Her cousins have all the gadgets though, I think she feels a bit left out of their FB chatter, but seeing how bullied they have been online through face book, I’m very glad that it’s not an issue here!
My younger sister is 12, she recently had over 200 comments on her facebook about cheating on a boy! She is not even in a relationship with him, they are 12! it got very nasty indeed, so I find it hard to see what good can come from young teens being on there at all.
I think if you go with your gut, and introduce things slowly, it will be fine. I also believe laptops,iPods etc should be earned, this could slow things down a bit! HTH a bit.
Hello Woodland mama - welcome to the forum
It is a very tricky one this. We don’t want them to feel isolated from their peers, and yet we know the dangers too. My older ones are now in their 20s (and 30s -eek) and had the full range of exposure to new technology as it developed. I think - particularly for the middle 2 - it took them away from the family and sucked them into the cyberspace world of teens. What that means - I now realise - is that their attitudes and opinions are being informed by other immature teenagers of their own age, rather than by their family elders (I don’t know if that makes sense, but i know what I mean). i would be inclined to go a much more moderate route with ds2 (5 years old) but i don’t quite know how i will acheive that when the times comes. Slowly slowly I guess.
beccagrace - that is a bit of a horror story about your sister, but I did think that you had to be a certain age before you could be on facebook.
This is a tough one in our home too. My DD is 10 and we don’t have a TV, but both my hubby and I use computers all day, so our role modelling has not been great! Until she choose to go to school 2 years ago my daughter seemed to ‘reject’ technology. She hated the computers and spent most of her time sitting up a tree reading a book.
For last Yule (2010, not 2011) we bought her an ipod as she suddenly developed an interest in one and looking back it was one of the worst mistakes we made. If I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have done it. She became totally addicted and we had to cut down her time to an hour after school and nothing on a Sunday. She has my old laptop for doing homework research on and has discovered BBC Iplayer. So now she loves that as well as wathcing YouTube videos.
She has asked for a facebook and youtube account but I’ve said no. She asked about MSN the other day but again I refused. She has a mobile phone and send the occassional text message to a friend but it’s really for keeping in touch with me.
My DD definitely feels the demand to conform so she is currently at the shop buying some crap to eat which breaks my heart but we have to let them go, right? They have to find their own way through the maze of the world they have incarnated into. My DD finds it very hard to make friends because she is so obviuosly ‘different’ so in a way I try to make it easy for her, to somehow compensate for that (not because I feel guilty but just because I obviously want to make life as pain-free as I can for her; rightly or wrongly) but this has required a lot of soul searching and compromise on my part. I don’t want to be dogmatic but I DO want to guide her consciously as much as I can. The boundary between caring and guiding and laying down rules is a fine one isn’t it?
I was hoping DD would regulate herself with the ipod, but she couldn’t so I had to instil boundaries. I was hoping for the same with sugar when I finally let her have it, but I have to accept she basically has a pretty addictive personality so she needs really strict boundaries from me in order not to go off the rails. It worries me terribly because I think she is prime material for doing crazy things in order to make friends and gain peer approval…And when I look at it like that I think an ipod is pretty harmless in comparison to what I might be facing in a couple of years…
Good luck with your decision mama; you’ll make the right one xx
This is really difficult to deal with. My children are younger than your teen (6 & 9) but being in mainstream school they have been faced with friends having games consoles etc right from age 5. Thankfully, they watch very little tv and use the PC for research type of things (or to copy pictures to draw etc) as we don’t have games for the PC. They will absolutely NOT have Facebook for as long as I can keep them away - to be honest, I am hoping they will be more like adults by the time they have them but I fear I may be in for a similar problem as you with the pressure. I disklike Facebook myself. I do have an account but it is purely to keep contact with friends. I only have real “friends” on there and not just people I happen to have met like some people do. If I ever do let my children have an account I intend to keep track of it. Only adding real friends and not to add people just because they know or have met them….but if I can help it I will try and avoid it to be honest.
Like Starchild with the ipod - we bought our children Nintendo DSs with brain training type of games which was fine to begin with…but then family and friends bought them “brain numbing” games (as we call them!) and suddenly they were totally addicted to it! It was the biggest mistake ever to buy the DS’s and I SO wish I hadn’t. We do now limit their time on it and they get 2 sessions a week for an hour or two each session. We also have a wii with wii sports and party (don’t really have any other games for the wii apart from DH’s fishing game) and their sessions includes that too so we often try and turn it into a family event rather than the two of them staring at the tiny DS screen.
It’s so hard because if I had my way I would only access to the PC for looking up things, maybe emailing friends etc…but I do feel that I can’t control everything as they don’t want to be completely different to their peers (we’re already a bit different in our values). All I can hope is that they get through this stage and grow up to remember our family values. (After all, I am almost a replica of my own mum now I’m in my 30s but it’s only now that I am going back to how I was brought up).
All we can do is try our best to bring them up to make sensible decisions.
Hugs. x x x (And welcome to the forum) x
I have a 13 year old dd (14 in April) . She has a phone and access to the family laptop. She does use facebook. She is quite a mature teen which does influence my decisions about what she can and can’t do. She uses the laptop in the dining room which means I’m around when she is on it and she’s still in the family space (I think it can be a problem for teens who have all this stuff in their bedrooms and therefore rarely leave it!). We also have a limit of an hour a day online, unless she’s using the computer for her home ed work/research. To be honest her biggest interest is music and she spends alot of time downloading songs and listening to music (she also has an mp3 player) - it is not the kind of thing I’d chose to listen to, but it is stuff she really does like rather than what everyone else is saying to listen too.
As she’s home educated and has friend all over the UK (made through camps and trips, etc) I can she the positive of things like facebook as it gives her a chance to chat/connect to friends online who may live hundreds of miles away. Also most of her friends are also friends with me so I can see what they are up too! lol.
I think a lot of it depends on the child. I have 5 grown up (well near enough) children, ages 23 down to 16, and all have access to the internet, FB accounts etc. My two eldest don’t bother with the internet too much but do like to have access, for FB to make plans with friends, and for my lad, the football news. Otherwise it’s for the general stuff we all do - online banking, researching, shopping around etc. My next two use FB more regularly and have a much wider range of friends, although only people they would see IRL now, rather than the 100’s they had when they first had accounts. Both regularly cull as they have begun to realize the superficiality of FB. My youngest of the grown ups uses the internet a lot, FB occasionally through the day but only has real life friends added. He watches a lot of YouTube though and is obsessed with a RPG game called Runescape? So much so that we have had to discuss it often and set boundaries in regards to his time online. We didn’t have this problem with the older ones.
All four of the oldest have mobile phones and as much as I don’t like them they are useful and the four couldn’t be without them. They hate the thought of being uncontactable and hate that I hardly remember to charge mind. The 16 year old doesn’t have a mobile and isnt particularly interested, although he is the one I would most like to use one as I worry when he is out.
I very much agree with Jacqui’s comments - <it took them away from the family and sucked them into the cyberspace world of teens. What that means - I now realise - is that their attitudes and opinions are being informed by other immature teenagers of their own age, rather than by their family elders>. I too found that as they increased their use of technology, their relationship with family changed and they were led by the demands of other teens/the music industry/consumerism, rather than being able to understand and accept the reasning of parents/older role models.
It’s very scary as parents to make these decisions and wonder whether we are encouraging or stifling independent thought and choice. We worry that having the access to technology will create a dependence on said technology, peer pressure, and unsuitable role models, and we worry that not allowing the access will stifle true independence and choice. Whichever way we choose we end up feeling equally guilty. If the child uses technology and becomes increasingly hooked on it, and with the accompanying social behaviours we fear, then it’s our fault for allowing that technology in. If we hold back form this technology then we worry that we aren’t allowing our child to grow, make independent decisions, and to be stifled by our own thoughts and ideals.
Ideally our 16 year old would never have come across the game he loves so much, but he has, and it’s done. Now it’s all about hoping he can learn self control and self regulation. Our children are loving, thoughtful, caring, hardworking, loyal, friendly, adults so thats enough for me, no matter the path we followed for them to be where they are
Your experience is much like mine Becks. So much of modern life is conducted online. Here I am chatting here, have just posted on my blog, and will pay a bill online in a moment. My daughter has just applied to Uni online, and my son sent me a photo via his phone - it is the norm. I worry more about young teens and Tweens (to use that horrible label.) - they are more easily influenced by peers. mychildren, though, have grown up as sensible, loving and independent people. In fact dd1 and ds1 no longer have Facebook, and dd2 has moved away to college, so likes to keep in touch with her friends.
Thanks so much everyone for your ideas and experience. I had hoped to get to the computer before now to answer, but half term and no power….I guess we all just do our best with our immediate circumstances don’t we? I had hoped that when we moved away from ‘mainstream ’ education to a steiner school that the pressure would be less but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. My son is quite insecure and, actually not that bothered about gaming etc, but almost everyone in his class has facebook, phones and watches dvds that are 15’s and in some cases 18s he feels I am being the tough parent and just wants to be like everyone else. Fair enough. Slowly slowly but with noticable progress for him I guess is the best I can do. This is an ongoing one! Thanks guys, it was lovely to read your stories….