Being a Mom
A friend of mine from graduate school and I were just lamenting over the fact that our daughters are asking to have e-mail accounts. Well, actually, we were marveling at how time has flown and that our kids are at this age already. Ok, truthfully, we were feeling sorry for ourselves about how old we must be to have tween-age kids, but I digress…
She and I are both concerned about setting guidelines for our girls as they take big steps into the world of technology social media. Here are the sets of guidelines she and I each pieced together from our own wisdom and bits of advice on the web. I like hers better…she liked mine…together, perhaps we have a whole parent’s brain. You can feel free to pick and choose from either. Hopefully, you can find the suggestions helpful:
1. Always be kind, and do not ever use email to say ugly, nasty, or mean things about ANYONE. Not only is that not behavior not acceptable, but email can always be forwarded to someone & hurt their feelings.
2. If you don’t recognize an address in your inbox, or someone sends you a weird email, don’t touch the email & come get me or Daddy.
3. No opening attachments or clicking on links without approval.
4. Daddy and I can and will access your emails at any time. You must give us your password(s) if you change them.
5. The only computers you are allowed to access your email from is mine or Daddy’s (and Grandma’s). If you access Gmail from school, you would have to be responsible enough to “SIGN OUT” so that the next person can’t access your email. Many grown-ups can’t even remember to do this, so I’m not going to ask you to. So, no accessing emails from school until I believe you’re responsible enough to do this.
6. NEVER click the “remember me” or “remember this password?” if you do access your email from another computer (against my rules). This will allow that computer to ALWAYS remember your password without the person sitting there to even think about it.
7. Never send to anyone in an email the following: your real address, phone number, any passwords, our cell phone numbers, your birthday/date, social security number or any other identifying information–not even to someone you know. This will cause you BIG, BIG problems or put you in DANGER from people who want to harm children.
8. Don’t use “Reply all.” Many grown-ups don’t even understand how to use this properly.
9. If someone emails you telling you you won something: you didn’t. Come get one of us.
10. Don’t go into the “Spam” folder – that’s not a place for children, and I’m trusting you enough to follow this rule (and the others). If you think an email you want may have mistakenly found its way in there, ask one of us to look in there for you.
11. You are not allowed to use Google+ without our permission. That is something you can earn with good behavior and when you’re a little older.
YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT IS A PRIVILEGE. WE CAN REVOKE THIS PRIVILEGE AT ANY TIME. WE CAN RESTRICT THE PRIVILEGE IN ANY WAY AT ANY TIME. WE EXPECT YOU TO FOLLOW THESE RULES IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THIS PRIVILEGE.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRACT:
We believe our family values include kindness, honesty, and compassion for others. Our use of technology must reflect these values. Therefore, we recognize that having an email address, texting, using a YouTube account, and any other uses of technology must follow these rules:
- Communication (sending e-mails, commenting on videos, sending texts, etc) is for the purpose of friendship and exchange of ideas or information. It is never for spreading gossip, making rude comments, using bad language, or giving out personal information to people we don’t know.
- Technology can never be used for the purposes of humiliating, embarrassing, getting revenge upon, or hurting others in any way.
- Sending or uploading photos and videos with any personally identifying images or information are not permitted unless specially approved by Mommy or Daddy.
- Mommy and Daddy must always have access to the passwords and content for all of your technology accounts.
- Mommy and Daddy reserve the right to insist that particular sites and friends who behave in violation of our values be banned or blocked.
- No emails, texts, YouTube comments, etc after 9:00pm (school year) and 9:30pm (summer).
If these rules are not followed, the following will occur:
First violation: All technology privileges ended for 7 days.
Second violation: All technology privileges ended for 14 days.
Third violation: All technology privileges ended indefinitely.
While we understand that anyone can make a mistake, we believe that living according to our values is critically important.
For more information and suggestions for teaching kids about ethical uses of technology and social media, please check out my post on Psychology Today, Teaching Netiquette to Kids.
This article from the Cyberbullying Research Center provides great, detailed information and instructions for kids (and their parents!) on what to do if a fake Facebook profile is created about them. Check it out!
As I started reading this article, “Why 6-Year Old Girls Want to Be Sexy,” I could hear my mind saying “UGH!” and thinking about the conversations I have been having…and will need to continue to have…with my two young daughters.
As I got to this section, however, I breathed a bit of a reassured sigh–validated that despite the challenges from the media, there is indeed much that Moms (and Dads and other caregivers!) can do about sexualized media messages:
“Mothers feel so overwhelmed by the sexualizing messages their daughters are receiving from the media that they feel they can do nothing to help,” she said. “Our study’s findings indicate otherwise — we found that in actuality, mothers are key players in whether or not their daughters sexualize themselves. Moms can help their daughters navigate a sexualizing world by instructing their daughters about their values and by not demonstrating objectified and sexualized behaviors themselves.”
Check out the whole article here:
- First…check out Friendship & Other Weapons, of course, and the featured sections on helping young girls examine music lyrics, advertising, social media, and technology. My article “Thinner, Sexier, Hotter” talks about sexualization in media and gives adults practical ideas for helping kids think critically about these messages.
- Next, check out Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, led by the tireless Melissa Wardy who always has something bold, brave, and inspiring to say about the impact of media sexualization on kids. Mattel and Monster High–watch out!
- Third, check out the innovative work of Ines Almeida and her new online marketplace that celebrates childhood without limits and gender stereotypes.
- And fourth, New Moon Girls is a great publication and option for young girls who want to be inspired by their peers and celebrate all the things that girls can do without the limits of having to be “sexy” at a young age.
Not long ago, my daughter, her best friend and I had a full day’s worth of activity and adventure, enjoying carnival games at a local festival, eating bags of salty popcorn, running through icy cold fountains when the day’s heat became too intense and following it all up with a late afternoon movie. It was Girl Time at its best!
Which is why I was totally blown away when, after dropping off her friend, my daughter’s answer to my innocent inquiry of, “So, what should we do for dinner?” was met with a raging, “Nothing! Can we just go home already? I think we’ve bonded enough for one day.”
“Was that a car that just rear-ended me?” I thought momentarily. “Can words cause whiplash?” I wondered. My white knuckles clutched the steering wheel with primitive force and I’m pretty sure the woman in the lane next to me witnessed steam coming out of my ears.
“Seriously?” I started out calmly. Unfortunately, I only began that way. Quick as a flash, angry words of hurt and indignation rang forth from my mouth. I promised to never take my daughter anywhere… ever… again. I threatened to cancel our “bonding plans” for next weekend’s end-of-school-year trip. I lied and told her that I had had a miserable day, too. In short, I mirrored the emotions my daughter had just unleashed on me and fueled the out-of-the-blue conflict with ten additional gallons of gasoline. When my rant was over, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and I knew I had blown it.
For the rest of this not-so-Mom-of-the-Year-moment–including my thoughts on how I would approach this situation if I could have a Do-Over–please check out my full article in the HuffingtonPost:
Please also check out the tab on LSCI Skills for Parents training, for more information on de-escalating conflicts with kids and improving parent-child relationships.
Enter to win a free, signed copy of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope With Bullying. Click here or on the link below to visit Mom Does Reviews for drawing rules and your chance to win. While you’re there, check out all of the nice things this reviewer had to say about my book
If you are interested in receiving a review copy of Friendship & Other Weapons or How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, please email me at Signe@signewhitson.com
Rachel Simmons is one of the first people to inspire me to work in the field of girl bullying. I love what she says here to girls–encouraging them to own their feelings and accept their imperfections. I also love the practical skill set she encourages: giving girls a framework for analyzing what they can do better and what they did well in particular aspects of their lives.
While you are checking out Rachel’s video, be sure to browse around the Toward the Stars site–it’s a brand new initiative launched by the visionary Ines Almeida. Her “tribe’s” purpose is to help reduce the threats to girlhood that crush girls ‘ true nature and potential. Her dream is to create a unique marketplace focused on changing gender stereotypes that cause girls to obsess over body image, keep them from taking leadership roles, and limit girls’ interests in sciences and math.
A good friend just let me know that last week, this article that I wrote for the Huffington Post was featured on AOL’s home page–very exciting! I hope it provides some helpful tips and strategies for parents, as they help a very tech-savvy generation become bully-savvy as well. Here’s an excerpt:
At not-quite-nine, I am still amazed everyday at how natural and intuitive technology usage is to my daughter and to all of her peers who have grown up with computers, cell phones, tablets and texting as part of their everyday lives. I am also aware, however, that things like Internet Safety, Cyberbullying and “Netiquette” may not register on her radar the same way they do on mine.
When she was very young, I worried about the unknown: online predators who could try to trick her into revealing personal information so that they could cause her physical harm. Now, in her tween years, I know that “stranger danger” is still a threat, but I spend more of my time worrying about the known: frenemies from her daily life who may use taunting texts, humiliating social media posts and viral videos to cause her emotional harm. It’s no wonder that when she begs me (at least once daily) for a cell phone, I feel chills run up and down my spine.
No matter how tech-savvy my daughter becomes, I am constantly aware that she is young and that it is up to me to monitor her safety and well-being with technology in the same consistent, diligent way that I ensure her well-being on a playground. These basic rules are our first line of defense in minimizing (I’m too wise to think that “preventing” is realistic) cyberbullying and using technology in safe, respectful ways:
To read about the six strategies I suggest to parents, please visit the HuffingtonPost or click this link:
This week, two new reviews of How to Be Angry were posted on amazon.com by two new readers–both Moms–one a therapist, one a manager. I am completely honored to get this feedback from both of them:
Leslie TenBroeck writes:
As a licensed therapist (a good one) and a parent (a so-so one), I found this book helpful in all realms. I’m always on the lookout for good group therapy curriculum, at the same time, trying to help my very emotional and rigid son find new ways to manage his anger. The book is written without a lot of jargon, which I find to be a plus. This would be great for schools as well.
PA Mom writes:
I am not a therapist or a teacher. I am a mom and a manager of a large team. WOW – this book is an AMAZING tool. As soon as I started reading it, I became instantly aware of how I express anger, and how my son expresses it. But what I learned also applied to my management role. I’ve already started applying some of the principles and techniques at home and at work, and I’m amazed at the results. A little awareness goes a LONG way. And I must agree with one of the other reviewers – the confirmation that anger is healthy is really refreshing. What this book does, is help us — ALL of us — to learn how to express anger in a healthy way. Highly recommend this book!
Check out these and other reviews at:
This morning, I had the great opportunity to join Public Radio host, Kathleen Dunn, and US Dept. of Education representative, Deborah Tempkin for an hour to talk about what parents, schools, and peers can do to stop bullying and cyber-bullying. While I much prefer being a writer…and being able to liberally revise my responses until I find just the right words…I did love the interaction with Kathleen and Deborah and with the callers who phoned, emailed, and tweeted their questions to the show. It was a lively discussion, sparked by the recent bullying-related suicide of a young man from Sioux City, Iowa.
The one thing I’ve been kicking myself about all day is my response to the two callers who talked about physical retaliations as being the best answer to the problem of bullying. I found myself a little tongue-tied during both conversations. The point I wanted to make–and that I do make when I have the luxury of writing on the subject instead of answering on-air–is that while physical retaliations may seem to solve the problem in the moment, they are not the mark of a civilized society and are never the kind of skill that best serve children in the long-term. I do believe with all of my heart that children need skills to know how to stand up for themselves, but never do I believe that revenge–particularly physical aggression–is an advisable response.
In both my scheduled workshops and my casual conversations on the topic of bullying, professionals and parents often ask me, “Is bullying really worse today than it was when we were kids?”
My answer to that question is an emphatic, “Yes.”
The 24/7 availability of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mails and social networking sites have intensified the impact of bullying, giving young people private ways to humiliate each other under-the-radar of adults and public ways to spread rumors and gossip to large-scale audiences.
To read the rest of this story, please visit the HuffingtonPost or click the link below.