This has been something that has been weighing on my heart heavily, and I am not going to lie to you, technology and social media scares the shit out of me. It has been a concern even before I had a child but after the events that took place this past week, I am back in anxiety alley wondering how the hell am I going to protect my daughter from the internet and technology.
I grew up in a simpler time. I think I got a cell phone in grade 11, which was a hand-me-down. I got my first brand new cell phone, a Nokia 3410 for my 18th birthday. I grew up without a computer and friends were phoned on the landline, no phoning before 9 in the morning or after 9 in the evening because that’s bad etiquette. Also a time where you never could get hold of people after 8 at night because they would be on the internet, and my fellow 90’s teens would remember dial-up, that sound still makes me cringe.
I’m straying off the point here.
In light of the recent missing teen and social media response I decided to put pen to paper or in the digital age fingers to keyboard? (That is really just giving away my age)
Thirteen year old goes missing and within a couple of hours more than half of South Africa is aware of the situation. Where she was last seen, were she was supposed to be and what she was wearing. That is the power of social media. If you think back a couple of years we would not have been able to reach a tenth of the amount of people that was reached here. We were reliant on the police, posters, newspapers and occasionally missing children would get printed in a magazine. The power behind what this technology can do is phenomenal.
Then the drama started and everybody started “facebook searching” the girl and found a very provocative, luring if you will, profile.
What has come to light is that her parents were not aware of this profile and she blocked them so they were unable to see it, but boy at the time the judgements were flying. And I must admit after seeing her profile I made some conclusions of my own. What played on my mind was the fact that total strangers who were now concerned were commenting on her profile about how she just needs a good hiding, and she needs to be disciplined. There were also racial remarks made.
I read her dad’s report last night and turns out she’s not being raised by “monsters” that couldn’t care less. They are human and as much as it pains me to say, it could have been anyone’s child.
An argument that seems to be thrown around like a wet towel is “when I was thirteen….”
Well to be very honest I was 13 quite a few years ago, and as mentioned above technology was not close to being as advanced as what it is today. But weren’t we all that 13-year-old at least once at some point in our lives. Okay maybe not all of us but somewhere at some point you must have been naive and done something ridiculously stupid? Yes the consequences might not have been as traumatic, but it has happened I am sure.
Anyhow Mila is two now and I am scared. I am scared for her. Scared for this technological era which makes the world smaller but also brings everything out there closer. The good, the bad and the absolute horrific. I wish I could say that I have answers or solutions, that I’ve read up and researched and come to a fool-proof solution. I don’t.
The only thing that seems to come up over and over again is be open with your children, educate them, talk to them, don’t be naive and never be ignorant and heaven knows don’t use scare tactics.
I am going to end off with this quote by Ram Das;
“We’re just walking each other home”