Forewarned is forearmed. As editor of a parenting magazine and voracious reader of tons of parenting books and articles, I’ve been forewarned about plenty. I know about cyber safety and cyber bullying. But my kids are young—10 and (nearly) eight. They don’t have cell phones, or Facebook accounts. I’d “back-burnered” my cyber-safety concerns.
So recently, when my son asked to use my computer to log onto a special, only-for-his-class email account his language arts teacher had set up, I was caught a bit off-guard; however, because it was part of an ongoing class project, I wasn’t overly concerned. Then the other day, with my son nearby, I logged into his account to check messages. There was a new email from Chloe*, sent to the entire class, that read, “Josh* and Eric* are going together. Thought you’d want to know.”
My son came to the computer when he heard me groan. He read the message and shrugged. “She’s trying to be funny,” he said.
I asked him if he thought it was funny, and he said not really.
Before you can say, “I’ll bet our forewarned parenting magazine editor overreacted,” I overreacted. I became a frazzled, lecturing mom. I impatiently told my son that what she wrote was not only NOT funny, it was thoughtless and quite possibly hurtful. I asked, “What would her mom say? What would your teacher say?” I was up in arms and ready for battle.
Then my son calmly said, “There’s another email from Chloe.” We opened it and together read: “Forget that last email. I’m sorry.”
Well, hurray for that, at least. But what a wake-up call. Among a select group of fourth graders awarded a special privilege, the cyber nastiness had taken all of two weeks to commence.
I told my son and daughter they can get their Facebook accounts when they’re in college.
*names changed to protect the innocent, and the obnoxious offender