This has been a busy week for me. I met with 1200 High School students and gave my seminar at three school. I have talked to much. But in my journey from one end of Massachusetts to the other, I learned a few things and would like to share them with you.
I heard from the Assistant Principal at the school where I mesmerized 1200 students. OK, maybe not mesmerized, but I did have their attention for some of the time. Anyway, she told me that a number ( I would like to say hundreds, but then I would be slightly exaggerating) of students made a point to come up and tell her that they liked my talk. A few seniors told her that the younger students really needed to hear what I had to say about sexting and texting and taking care of each other. (See 10/4 blog) The seniors perception was that the the 9th and and 10th graders are the ones in overdrive when it comes to the sexting issue and really do not get the risks involved. My takeaway for you parents is to underscore the worries of these seniors. Your teens need your help and your training when it comes to sharing information, naked or otherwise on any of their social networking devices.
To underscore this point. A parent of a 12 year old girl came up to me at the end of one of my seminars to share a story. This mom couldn't be more on top of the temptations of her daughter when it comes to facebook, texting et al. This mom is well versed in technology and teen behavior, but even she was surprised at what she found on her daughter's computer. There are anonymous chat rooms that teens like to frequent, the one in particular this mom mentioned was OMEGLE.COM. Apparently her 12 year old daughter was curious about this site (mom wasn't aware of this one) and visited it. She started chatting with what she thought was a boy her own age, and in her 12 year old naivete, she gave him her e-mail address. Mom monitors her daughter's e-mail, as the parent of a 12 ought to, and saw an e-mail from an unfamiliar account, opened it up to find pornography. The mom was shocked, how could this have happened? First, the mom didn't know about this omegle site, so had never even had a conversation with her daughter about these kinds of chat rooms, and never thought her 12 year old would even want to go on such a site. The daughter's "new friend" in this chat room, had asked for her e-mail address so they could correspond privately. Flattered by his attention, she gave him her e-mail address. I am hoping she stopped there and didn't share her phone number or address. Teens like attention, pure and simple. They pretty much don't care where it comes from, and lack the adult cynicism as in ( oh sure he wants to be your "friend", and have private conversations, said sarcastically) You need to talk to your teens, yes even the young ones about these kinds of chat rooms, and educate them as to the dangers of predators who lurk there.
Another parent at another talk shared this tip with me. I didn't know this but there is a new "facebook" called Google Buzz, and teens are going on this to the apparent ignorance of their parents. So here is what the kids do. Follow me on this: Teens go on facebook and willingly give their parents their facebook password and might even agree to friend them. Parents are euphoric with this information and feel safe and secure about their child's facebook use. BUT... here is what is really going on. Teen sets up an account on Google Buzz , unbeknownst to their parents, and posts whatever, secure in the knowledge that their parents are completely unaware of their membership in this new fun place. In addition, when you join Google Buzz, you automatically get a g-mail account. This gives teens a new private place to send and receive messages. Gotta keep up parents. This was new information for me. Teens are way ahead of us on this social networking stuff, and in order to keep them safe, you have got to be on your toes. (see paragraph above)
Finally today I would like to share a passage I read yesterday from a commencement address that Steve Jobs gave in 2005. He was not only a genius in the field of technology, but in human nature as well. I think this is such wonderful advice for all of us, and especially your teen as they begin to figure out just who they are.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. "