I saw these funeral selfies and I couldn’t help but shake my head. I think it is safe to say that not only have we crossed over the proverbial line, but we seem to have lost sight of it all together. I know, I know, they are just selfies.
Everybody hates them and everybody posts them.
In the whole scheme of things, they are certainly not the worst thing to ever be posted on the Internet. However, posting pictures with one’s Grandma as she is being laid to rest is certainly questionable behavior. My first question would probably have to be don’t those kids have parents teaching them that’s not a good idea? The answer is probably a resounding, “no.” If they are like a majority of young people these days, their parents have probably given them unrestricted access to the Internet via the smartphones in their pockets, and naively forgotten to guide them through an acceptable modus operandi. These kids are footloose and fancy-free in world that is much bigger and more permanent than they can even imagine.
The truth is they actually have no parents in their online world.
We have heard it a million times before, parents need to help their kids learn to navigate their online worlds. The Internet is a Neverland of wonders and kids today are unfortunately the “lost boys.” We have somehow deceived ourselves though, as we pretend this magical cyber-land does not have its own variations of Captain Hook that our kids will have to defeat in order to survive. Younger and younger kids are joining the ranks of the online and often it appears they have no one at their side to be their guide. Everyone seems to know how ridiculous it would be to throw a preteen out into the world all on their own and expect them to thrive and survive, yet we do seem to expect they will just automatically figure out how to live their lives online.
A lot of stuff on the Internet leaves me shaking my head and asking why in the world did that ever get posted. There are of course all the usual annoyances, the ‘repost this and you’ll be blessed’ junk and the pictures of ridiculously cute kittens that cause me to lose entire minutes of my day. But also the more dangerous stuff, like images that can tempt or information about others that can destroy. I know you are probably expecting my next words to be “Get off my lawn,” but I assure you I am not that old and cranky, yet.
I am, however, concerned.
Concerned that a whole generation of kids is going to look back and ask us all, “Why didn’t you help us?”
How is it that instead of telling us this kind of online behavior was unacceptable, you dedicated blogs to laughing at it? Instead of showing us how it’s done, you buried your faces in your own online worlds and left us to fend for ourselves? This is not all to point my finger and say, ‘Look at what they are posting, it’s bad,” there is already more than enough of that going on. I am, however, hoping that we can see that we are creating an online culture of orphans, before it is too late.
Be there with your kids. Just as you are in real life, so you should be on the internetz. The answer is not to keep them off them Internet. They will not magically be able to figure it all out the minute they turn 18.
All we can do is navigate it with them, one age-appropriate click at a time.
Teach them to value their privacy in this world where it is clearly for sale to the lowest bidder. Encourage them to show discretion as they chose the online communities they want to join, and join those communities with them. If your kid is on Instagram, join Instagram. Twitter? Tweet with them. Model for them self-respect and decency as you participate together in those places. Most of all, remind that there is a time for Internet and a time to turn it off. Teach them to unplug by designating your own un-negotiable time off-line.
The world the Internet can open up for kids is amazing. Let’s help them learn to navigate it in a way they and we won’t regret someday. Let’s make sure these generations know they are not digital orphans. Let’s be parents who are connected to our kids, online and off.