The other night I sat down with my son, tried to make some COOL MOM points, and we watched a fairly new show on MTV called Catfish. The premace of the show starts simple. Two people meet online and fall madly in love without having ever met or actually seeing each other face to face. My 12 year old son, couldn't understand why they would fall so hard in love without ever meeting face to face. It seems all of the episodes of the show thus far have had pretty bad endings. The person is never even close to what they portray themselves to be. In most cases they are another gender, sexual orientation, and usually grossly overweight.
I'm glad I took the time to sit down and watch this with him because it opened up some extremely important dialogue between us. We started chatting about his Facebook (yes I let him have one), Instagram, & Microsoft XBOX Live.
Have you ever really looked through your child's friend list on their social media accounts and or online gaming forums? I consider myself an extremely involved, and tech savvy mom, yet, I was still horrified to discover that my very own son was communicating with a 48 year old "online friend" from Milwaukee on XBOX Live.
How could this happen to me? I realized that although we have fairly strict guidelines in our home, the place that all the lines begin to blur is simply with the word "friend". I have always been clear when describing what a friend is to me. The obvious answers of course being "someone that we see on a regular basis, that we enjoy going places with, care for, and have things in common with. However, when my son answered, he simply stated "just someone I play with".
Suddenly, I thought about how we had watched Catfish earlier. Although, he wasn't pursuing love I got him to see how playing XBOX with "online friends" was the same thing. He admitted that he had no idea that the gamer he had been playing with was a 48 year old male. He realized that the person could have lied to him and said anything or worse yet the man could have got personal information from my son.
In this digital age we have a greater responsibility than ever to stay involved in our children's lives. Along with setting parental controls and strict rules, take the time to sit with your kids and relate. It's never too late to educate! Click here to modify your XBOX Parental Controls, Instagram, & Facebook Settings.