Joining the Modern World

One of the ongoing battles I have with the modern world is how it works so hard to rob our children of their childhoods. I’ve fought a good war on as many fronts as I’ve been able — protecting my daughter when she’s needed protecting, and encouraging her to move out to meet that world when she’s given the signal that she’s been ready.

Sometimes knowing how and when has been glaringly obvious. Like knowing that Cait can’t handle watching gore and violence on TV, and then giving her the tools to block the offending channels and shows for herself — because she’s adamant about not having those images and emotions involuntarily inflicted upon herself.

Sometimes it’s been a delicate balancing act. Like knowing if and when to allow for individual pieces of this whole electronic-techno gadgetry age. Does a 12 year old need her own cell phone when none of her friends have one, she only has one after-school activity, and she’s not interested in hanging out anywhere except at home? So far, because she can take my phone whenever she needs one, the answer has been: not yet. I suspect next year that answer will change.

And sometimes we just have to test the water to get a feel for where we are. As with the cell phone, none of her friends have discovered a serious need for email. At most, they like to send each other an occasional Monkey email card through their parents’ emails. That’s all just starting to change.

So when Cait asked me to help her set up her own email account, I understood that it was as much about a desire for a little more privacy as it was about a need to communicate more with her friends.

It seemed the right time to jump in. After I set up her account and showed her how to log on and set her password, I sent her her first grown-up email.


From: Mom
Sent: Saturday,  2:17 PM
To: Cait
Subject: hello my love

A few tips for happy emailing.

Remember how we talked about how to be safe online? The same goes for any information you might share in emails. While the on-line world is mostly a safe place (just like the real world), it only takes one whack-a-doodle to ruin the party.

Here are a couple of guidelines.

DO NOT EVER as in NEVER give personal information in emails or online without checking with me first.

DO NOT EVER as in NEVER open an email unless you are sure you know who it’s from. Read email addresses and subject lines carefully as spammers and phishing emails can look very similar. When in doubt throw it out.

DO NOT EVER as in NEVER respond to emails or instant messages or chat rooms from people you do not know. Or even from people you sort of think you know.

DO NOT EVER as in NEVER click on a link in an email until after you’ve right-clicked on it first to look at the properties, and you are certain that you know the site that link will take you to. If in doubt, ask me first.

I think that about covers it. Have fun!

Love

your mother

This was the email I promptly received in return.

From: Cait
Sent: Saturday,  2:20 PM
To: Mom
Subject: hello my love

MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

I got it!, no fooling around with my email.

Love

your daughter

Judging by that “MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM,” I think it’s safe to say she’s feeling quite ready for this step.

7 thoughts on “Joining the Modern World”

  1. I have said all that and more — so much so that I’m sure my daughter does an internal eye-roll whenever I broach the subject. The whole online predator thing freaks me out. As does the fact that anything we send out into the cyber-world can haunt us for our entire lives. Technology is a scary world, and I’m not sure we’re evolved enough to deal with it.

  2. Cindy Stewart Birdwell

    Karen

    I applaud your attention to keeping your daughter safe on-line. I can easily imagine the close relationship you two share, a blessing indeed! I am a mother of two sweet girls, seventeen and five. My seventeen year old thankfully busts every teenage stereotype out there, and it has been an honor to raise her with the care and attention all children need, especially in this world of ours. Making them aware, and protecting their innocence at the same time, can be a challenge, but it can be accomplished with humor and great love. I wonder what the cautions will be when my five year old reaches her teenage years? So from one conscientious mother to another, thank you for your beautiful blog and your sage woman wisdom!

  3. I agree with The Social Puppy…you’re both fortunate to have such a great relationship. I hope the new year brings more of the same, and the beginning of a safe and good online experience for Cait!

  4. The Social Puppy

    Wow, that is so incredibly sweet. It sounds as though you and your daughter have a fabulous relationship. I love your writing style and have added your blog to my favorites list!

  5. I don’t know how I would handle the email and online stuff today. When we started emailing back in um…either 93 or 94 or 95 there were only a couple of platforms. And we didn’t have Internet just dial-up email accounts at first. While you could readily pick a user name it was sometimes difficult to email across platforms; well, it was hard to email AOL account holders if you weren’t on AOL. It was great for the kids and I because being military it was easier to stay in touch with friends who were no longer in the same neighborhood. I was doing genealogy research at the time and email was cheaper than long distance phone calls or fax. I can see your point that all of your daughter’s friends are a local phone call away so why is email necessary in her case. Why did teens start driving to school in the 50s when the school was at the end of their street?

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