Friday, January 20, 2012

I"ll Give You My Password If You Give Me Yours

It's a good thing I read the newspapers cause honestly keeping up with what and how teens do things in this day and age is a full-time job. Here is what I learned yesterday in an article in the NY times: Young, In Love, And Sharing Everything, Including A Password.  Remember when you had your first steady boy/girlfriend? It's always been important to have a talisman that represents your commitment. But it was a ring, or an ID bracelet, or a necklace, something tangible you could hold to your heart and kiss goodnight thinking of your beloved. I guess that's now old fashioned. Today, teens share their facebook and e-mail passwords as a sign of trust and commitment. 17 year old Tiffany says:"I have nothing to hide from him and he has nothing to hide from me. I know he'd never do anything to hurt my reputation."  Ha ha ha! (that's my sarcasm not Tiffany's)

Oh the beautiful naivete of Adolescence. True love lasts forever, until forever is a week from Monday when there is a painful and emotional breakup because Tiffany or her beloved and trustworthy boyfriend flirts with someone else! Because Teens live in the present, and do not practice sequential thinking, i.e how might an ex-boy/girlfriend use my password into e-mail and facebook play out if/when we break-up, they are unprepared when the sh*t hits the fan. First loves are intoxicating, addictive, and all consuming. A teen in love will do ANYTHING to prove and show their love to the chosen one! And today, sharing passwords not saliva, is the ultimate test of true love.  Unfortunately these teens, thinking that love lasts forever, are shocked and surprised when this gift of intimacy gets turned against them after a break-up. Intimate facebook messages and emails that profess love in sexual language, baby talk, or conversations about other people they thought were confidential now become public knowledge and spread like wildfire through the friend community. Oh the humiliation! Not only that, but any messages/emails from other people including you have an unintended audience. Perhaps you have written a heartfelt private e-mail to your son/daughter sharing your worries about their current love interest. Unbeknownst to you, that person is now privy to your private conversations with your child. And also, that boy/girlfriend now can read e-mails and messages from friends who might be sharing intimacies that they don't want shared with anyone else. Or perhaps a new crush sends a message trying to gauge interest, and whoa, the jealousy that can get touched off. So many complications, so much heartache, just from a secret word.

Here is yet another new frontier that parents need to prepare their child for. Like all these new technology tools, there are many unintended consequences that we have not educated ourselves and our teens about. It's usually when a crisis hits we then pay attention. Preempt the crisis! Please have a conversation with your teen about password sharing. You will encounter eye-rolling. Perhaps you can start by printing this article out from the NY times and read it aloud at the dinner table. Rather than lecturing, start a conversation.

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