It’s challenging knowing what the young ones are up to in these online times. When my son was growing up around the bay, dial-up, ruled. Pretty easy to know Junior’s connected to potentially lurking evil when all you had to do was pick up an extension and hear the screechin’. Times, they have changed.
When I crawled into bed last night my daughter was still organizing for back to school. As there was still one more sleep before school started, I kissed her, complimented a job well done and let her be.
“Don’t stay up too late,” I mommy-murmured as I headed off down the hall to my room and went off to dreamland.
A while later I woke. The house was quiet. My daughter’s door was closed. I peaked in. She was in bed on her tablet. I wasn’t sure of the time, but figured it was well past her almost-school-days bedtime. I gave her the hairy eyeball. I put the tablet on her dresser and went back to bed, much too drowsy to clue into what a perfect teachable moment that was, realizing later I should have snooped to see what she had been up to.
It could have been something as innocent as finishing up a movie, but it also could have been something else. It was an opportunity lost. One of the best parenting tools when it comes to keeping kids on-line safe is the element of surprise. If it was nothing, then what a fabulous positive parenting moment to say, ‘‘wow! Nice to know you can be trusted even when mommy isn’t around.’’ If, instead, it was something she shouldn’t have been at, well, that’s a whole other lost-at-sea-forever kettle of fish. It’s a concern, and I’m not alone.
A recent national Angus Reid survey shows that half of Canadian parents are in a similar predicament, concerned their child spends too much time on their screens. One in five Canadian parents asked reported their child spends more than four hours per day connected. Preteen girls like my daughter are the group most likely to rely on their devices for social interaction and communication. Scary.
Besides being concerned for their brains, it’s also a worry for their bodies.
The O’Brien Institute for Public Health also released a report this week that casts a worrisome shadow of the state of Canada children. A lowly 35 per cent of five to 17-year-olds are meeting the recommended standards for daily exercise, and guess what? Newfoundland has the highest number of overweight kids, with 36.4 of the young population being classified as obese.
The solution isn’t an easy one, so don’t rush to change the wifi password. Maybe we just need to set better examples as even adults have a hard time behaving online.
Best ‘shoe’ on tv
The President of the United States seems to enjoy taking to Twitter, impulsively tweeting his frustrations away. Sometimes his greatest ill is grammar, like writing he’d be “reigning in” bad trading partners, or congratulating Sean Hannity of Fox News for having “the number one shoe on Cable Television!”
And Canadians polite? Not always. Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell took a shot at the president tweeting she hoped Hurricane Dorian would strike Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in response to a tweet which said the state was at risk. She later wrote, “It was intended as sarcasm – not a serious wish of harm. Throwaway lines get a life of their own on Twitter.”
It’s not just Twitter, and it’s not just castoff comments. Images of Halloween costume past or a ‘tag’ at some high school rally you’d rather forget you attended; if it’s online, it can resurface.
There was a time all a mother needed was eyes in the back of her head to know what their youngsters were at. Ahhh, the good ol’ days.
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]