The time came this Christmas when my eldest daughter was given a phone, despite our misgivings and certainty that she was too young, we succumbed to the pressure and didn’t want her to be the only one without (yes sad I know).
To be fair the look on her face when she realised we had given in and given her a phone, was priceless-she actually cried tears of joy (God help us!) but not long after the issues began. The cries for social media – No chance; the need for Snap-Chat – No Chance, the endless hours glued to it – No chance; texting me from upstairs, rather than speaking to me- No chance!
Guess how long we lasted?
Just mere days! Snap-Chat is supposedly where all the class discuss the who’s and wheres of Year 6 life and if your not in the group you apparently don’t know anything! So we relented, saying that we had to be able to see all chats and if anything was discussed she was unhappy with that she must tell us and if anyone was unkind, to tell us. My major issue with snap chat is that it is so easy to say something mean as an instant message disappears, so there is no prove! I mean this is like a dream if theres a bully – say what they want then deny it all- there is no proof. The only saving grace is that “Group Chats” are logged and I can read through them.
Oh and the endless requests for FaceTime, she must have been called 20 times one day, despite my telling her to ignore it! But then her ignoring it caused grieve! I mean seriously 10/11 year olds are not old enough to deal with phones and don’t NEED to speak to each other constantly, they see enough of one another- although apparently not if the constant chat is anything to go by-relentless!
I thought we were safe, no social media and the chats seemed harmless enough- some silly girls being girls stuff but nothing major and nothing I felt she could not handle. Although I think my mistake was saying ignore or block anyone when you don’t like what they are saying or they are upsetting you. My daughter can be over sensitive, so at times something that may have been said in jest is taken to heart and thats that she’s hurt, emotional and is blocking!
The issue with young children having the ability to converse out of school, is that it is not monitored- yes we can read the group messages, but as we all know its easy to say things you wouldn’t say to someones face, over Snap chat or on any social media platform. Its a breeding ground for pettiness, for tittle tattle and the escalation of things to catastrophic proportions! kids should go to school, have their friends, have their rows, kiss and make up ( or don’t) then come home, relax and leave it at school till the next day! The anxiety and pressure the need to always be available, to always be friends with everyone is too much, its suffocating and lonely.
As a parent, its important to observe, listen and coach, to advise your child, make them kind, caring , but also teach them not to let people upset them and to defend themselves. We cannot fight their battles for them and nor should we want to, as how else we they learn?
I have no issue with any of my daughters friends, yes there has been mean things said, but thats life, thats girls and like I say to her ‘ignore it’ you do not need anyone else approval- Stop caring what they say, do not rise to it. But man this is sooooo hard!
Also, I truly believe parents should not get involved in their Childs arguments, especially when the facts are not known. At school, a teacher will listen to both sides and speak to everyone involved and deal with the issue. When parents wade in, you see only the good in your child, believe what they say and find it easy to point blame at somebody else. However, this is a dangerous game, especially when Snap-Chat is involved, the messages disappear there is no proof, so surely its about encouraging children to sort it out and move on- gently reminding them that they should be kind and thoughtful and that they should be careful what they say, as what may be a joke to one, may upset another.
No child at primary school is evil or mean or horrible (sure there are a few, but I’ve never come across them) all girls, however lovely, are capable in a group of shocking their own parents by something they say and do, in their bid to be liked and be in with a particular group. I get this, I do, I wish my daughter would be happy being alone sometimes, it would make life easier, but then friendships make us who we are, so surely these issues and life lessons are good and can be learning curves?
Phones and group chat suck! Parenting is endless angst and a knot in the belly that will not be undone. Its crying at night because on this occasion, you know they haven’t done anything wrong, yet will face trouble at school (which should be a fun, safe place) from something that happened our of school hours! You cannot wrap your kids in cotton wool, they will get hurt, they will hurt others (even if unintentionally) they will Fuck up, they will be lonely, scared, tearful and you just have to watch from the sidelines sending them in to what could be the lions den- but whats the alternative? They need to learn, like we did. Phones are a lesson, I wish I didn’t have to learn with three children, it makes it hard to switch off, for them to switch off and it creates problems, of this I have no doubt! But it is the world we live in now, it is their world, their generation and they need to learn to build a thick thick thick skin!
Parenting is a minefield.