Family dialogue about all things internet

Last night I asked my son about school. From there the topic continued and I brought up my blog post about unschooling.

I asked them if they remembered their grandmother telling us the story about her playing hooky in Kindergarten.

They did.

They did not know the expression ‘playing hooky’ though. I didn’t either till I was in at least high school, but then, I was still learning English at the time. (I moved to Canada at age 11, and had to learn the language from scratch, so expressions like that were not part of my regular repertoire yet).

So anyway, rather than discuss the topic randomly while they were shoveling spaghetti and meatballs into their growing bodies, I decided to read them my blog post.

Side note: both kids were read to a lot as kids, and loved it. They seemed receptive to me reading to them at the dinner table as well.

Both kids also know about my blog and occasionally read some of it.

The blog, which is fairly active, has pretty good traction in the comments and likes. This was a good way to help the kids understand a little about what it means to have followers and likes on the internet.

Kids today tend to be very superficial about all things internet, double tapping to like something without much thought process. It’s the stats that are so appealing to them. So and so has so many followers, such and such a post has so many likes…that’s what their focus is on.

After I read them my blog post, several conversations ensued:

  • one was about likes and followers
  • one was about the creative aspect of writing a blog, or creativity in general
  • one was about dialogue and engagement with strangers on the internet

All good topics to have with kids at the dinner table…

I told them about how I know each and every follower of mine by checking them out for validity (click on their profile or about page), and how I engage with my followers on their blogs, that kind of thing. Then I compare how my blogging is different from what my kids are doing on Instagram or elsewhere on the web.*

My son isn’t interested in Instagram or social media yet, or if he is, he’s not letting on much. Every time I see him staring at a screen it’s fortnite related. Could be worse at 13, right?

My daughter however is into slime making, animals and crafts. She created an Instragram account which I monitor on my app on my phone (I don’t have my own account but I’m her ‘creator’ of her account). I see who follows her, I see her likes and comments, and I see who chats with her. I mean, I mostly monitor her followers, the rest is mind-numbingly boring to me (and full of emojis…) 🙃

Point is, she’s a minor, and she has certain rules to respect:

No use of her real name

No selfies at all

You’d be surprised how many of her 10, 11 year old friends have accounts under their first and last names, posting pictures of themselves…And this is after police officers give assemblies at school on internet safety.

ANYWAY.

So, there I am at the dinner table, reading to them my blog post. Asking them questions, engaging them in dialogue. They all, including my partner, made comments.

Isn’t this fun? I’m getting verbal comments from my familly on my blog now. 🙃

This gave me an idea. I think it’s no surprise that I admit communication with my teen in particular isn’t always easy for me (or him), and I’m not always convinced I get through to him in the way I want to. But how last night’s dinner went with the dialogue and the blog post I read to them, I thought maybe we could keep this up.

For one thing, it shows them insights to things like this:

a) Mom is an individual and has a creative side that appeals to people whom she hasn’t met but who give her positive feedback (with all the doom and gloom about the internet, there is a positive side that shouldn’t be overlooked, in my view.)

b) Mom knows a lot more about the internet than they realize, and is a source of education for them that is practical (it’s not just about rules and restrictions. I’m no expert, but I have 13 years online experience…)

c) Hearing dad make a positive comment about a blog post mom wrote and posted to the internet shows parental solidarity. They know he doesn’t have any social media accounts and perhaps they feel a certain level of discomfort coming from him. This might induce some confusion in how the internet is viewed by different adults in the same household.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the dinner table continues to be a good place for a family to communicate.  Everyone is sitting together, facing each other (and not some screen) and we can take turns to speak and listen to one another.

We know the internet is here to stay and that by restricting them too much, or banning it all together will just lead for them to consume behind our backs.

They know that both their parents are educated in the internet and its shenanigans. But they are also keenly aware that dad reads and researches (intellectual stimulation) whereas mom does that and also creates and publishes publicly for others to consume.

I hope some of what we talk about, at dinner or elsewhere, sticks to them.

Tell me, does it work similar for you? Or do you have observations I would be able to learn from that I have overlooked?

*As a SAHM I have time during the morning to work on these things. On those occasions when I take on a contract or part-time position, this falls by the wayside. I do use my mobile phone during some downtime (rink side during a practice for example) to follow up with my blog followers. I don’t have thousands of followers so this part is still manageable. For now, this works for me. How this will change if when my dog walking business takes off we will see when the time comes.

10 thoughts on “Family dialogue about all things internet

  1. We have desperately tried not to have too many visible walls with regard to the internet – to let the kids do their own thing, and to let them discover things on their own. For the most part it has worked – the kids are not obsessed with it. We do police the WiFi connection at home though – it cuts off to the younger girls phones and laptops at bedtime, and they know it can be removed at a moment’s notice too. We do have a service through our ISP to block pornographic content too, which is useful in order to allow them more freedom than they might otherwise be allowed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard of wifi blocking but I wouldn’t know where to start to do something like this. I’d let him figure it out if it comes to that. It does work for some people…or password protect it and then leave a list of chores. When they’re done their chores they can ask for the password.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the open dialogue and I think that is SUCH an important part of parenting, especially in this day and age.

    My daughter reads everything I post. She is an aspiring writer herself, so it gives us a lot to talk about. But it can also be a bit daunting. There’s a lot I can no longer feel free sharing compared to my first blog which was completely anonymous to everyone in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course you know I have a rule about having a meal as a family 3 Times a week….😉 (though last night I know we walked about my daughters appointment with the college counselor today, which my husband denied any knowledge of)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can schedule family meals until the cows come home, doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen. Like tonight…last night she cried, didn’t want to go to baseball tryouts today. Fine by me. Today she cries she wants to go, which means husband and daughter are leaving at 6 and I gotta go to the rink till 1030. So dinner which was planned for all at 6 is now half eating at 530, the other half at 6.

      Nobody tells you about that part when you’re pregnant…🙃

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I love this post! Talking – whether at the dinner table, on a walk or in the car (our family favourite place to share thoughts and have deep and meaningful conversations) -or wherever as a family you can all be together and just talk is fabulous. Talking with your teen is always hard, if you’re not sure whether you’re being heard or not let me reassure you that you are. They may not be responsive or engage much but they’re listening. Always! You sound like such an awesome person.

    Liked by 1 person

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