We all know the expression. Candy’s dandy but liquor’s quicker. Cute, if you’re a consenting adult, but what if you’re a teenager? How susceptible are our kids to sweet-talking, seemingly safe friendships that often begin with faceless technology?
Or have we lost touch, as we sink deeper into our own use of these tools and communities – distracted by siblings, schedules, making a buck, and a host of other competing priorities?
We realize we need to know more when it comes to who our kids are talking to online or through texting – and how much. This is a priority; these are vulnerable years, and formative ones relative to how relationships work.
Now we all know there are friends, and there are friends… I’m certainly a proponent of online communities and communications. I’ve used them for
But I worry about the fact that I don’t know my son’s friends the way I used to. I can’t possibly; his world is expanding exponentially. I can ask questions, and I can insist on knowing names, having phone numbers, and planned locations when he goes out.
But even that doesn’t feel like enough.
How well do we really know our tweens’ and teens’ peer groups, especially as some of them are virtual? As kids get older, a broadening group of acquaintances is inevitable. But it’s more unsettling somehow, with the fickleness, potential deception, and reduced face-to-face time fostered by these tools.
And what about trust? Is it a thing of the past? What about pacing in relationships?
- Have social networks and superficial communications distorted the real nature of trusting relationships?
- Do they encourage throw-away friends at best, and dangerous behaviors at worst?
- Do our teens have the tools to recognize true friendship, or precarious emotional and physical territory?
- What can we do to help, other than pay attention, and be better role models ourselves?
Radical Parenting offers commentary on these issues.
Take a look at this article by Vanessa Van Petten, who runs RadicalParenting.com, a parenting blog written from the kid’s perspective with 20 teen writers. Their goal is to give parents a secret view into the world of kids and youth.
Cotton Candy Friends: How social networking, IMing, texting and the Internet are changing teens’ friendships.
Read, and share.