At some point, the parenting message changes from “Don’t talk to random strangers” changes to “Just because your friends are doing it, you don’t have to do it, too” and “If the driver is drinking, don’t get in the car. Call us and we’ll get you home.”
The issues change, month by month, year by year, and the fears change, too — will they be safe out of your sight? Will they make good decisions? And just how big is that tattoo going to be, anyway?
Parenting has never been simple, and it’s never been easy.
A 14-year-old boy and his parents found that out last week after the boy was charged with sharing child pornography online — and, no, this is not another one of the seemingly daily cases of teens sharing nude selfies.
The boy alleged shared an image taken off the Internet with someone on Facebook — Facebook took note of the share, and notified the RCMP.
“It’s not a known victim,” Const. Lindsey Donovan of the RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit told the Canadian Press. “I’ve actually seen that image in different files before — just something someone would have got off the Internet and just gave it to somebody else. And since they gave it to somebody else on Facebook, they called us and reported it.”
The 14-year-old was officially charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. It means a day in court, and the embarrassment and shame that comes with it.
It’s good that Facebook is taking an active role in the fight against child pornography — it’s also a good teaching-point (yet another teaching-point in the minefield of modern life) for parents to explain about the improper sexualization of underage children. At the same time, parents also have the opportunity to point out the oft-ignored fact that any notion of Internet privacy is a pipe-dream, and that your trail through the minefield of the open web is a pretty much permanent one.
Electronic Big Brother is, almost certainly, able to watch your every move. (If it chooses to take the time and effort to look through all the trees out there in the huge and massive data forest.)
One thing is for certain: raising children, let alone young adults, is never going to be simple. The badlands of the Internet are just another lesson to be explained and lectured about — lectures that are probably as easily ignored by our kids as we ignored them when the same lessons were coming from our own parents.
All parents can do is to try and keep drumming the message in.
And more? Well, as all parents know well, we just get the opportunity to worry — endlessly.