Thursday, February 27, 2014

I LISTEN: The Big Disconnect

Phoebe recently experienced a situation in which a classmate created a new email address "stalker dan" and emailed her scary emails with details about her life and threatened her.  She didn't tell me about the first one, but did tell me about the second one.  I reached out to parents in her class and within the hour knew who had done this.

I was not upset.  I viewed it as what I now call: A LAPSE IN FRONTAL LOBE MOMENT which leads to bad judgment.  Her school, however made a huge deal of it--there were two special meetings that took place within the school day and parents of the child were called in for a meeting and it was made known that this "cyber-bullying" would not be tolerated.

It was a close friend of hers, who thought it was funny.  Neither of us felt actually threatened or bullied....but as a result of all of this, a book was recommended to us parents.

I just finished listening to The Big Disconnect.

You could definitely skip around to your relevant chapter based on the age of your children --I listened to the whole thing because of the age span of my girls.

I came away with a few impressions:

1. Pickle's generation is actually quite different from Phoebes--Pickle now has an IPAD and games made for HER AGE!!!.  When Ph was a baby I used the tv a LOT--that's all we had!--the Wiggles and Max and Ruby and Dora were some of her favorites.  I was in my very early twenties, and I still wanted a lot of ME time, and SHE was mesmerized and would just sit there watching so it was a good (BAD according to this book) solution for me.  Lolly had no interest in tv so that was never a babysitter for her.  Pickle is medium.  Watching some select shows on the road trip really helped, and I use the iPad to get through my workouts in the gym, but I try not to resort to it out of habit.  

Props to me: I take her to castings, and MANY of the babies are sitting on their mothers' laps looking at their iPhone.  I just put Pickle on the floor and let her explore her environment and interact with the other babies. Guess which babies melt down when it's time to go in to get their photo taken? Not mine.

2. I am on alert for inappropriate online behavior for the middle age---Lolly and her friends.  So far I think we are ok. They do not interact online or through phones---if anything it is a novelty  when someone gets a new iPod with wifi, not a regular thing.  Also I do not think many of her girl friends and even most of the boys play violent video games.  According to this book, it seems that the source of inappropriate emailing etc. has a lot of its roots in violent video games.  One of the benefits of both of their schools is that there is only one class per grade and it is the same kids/families year after year.  I have a relationship with these parents and know their families- I think that is an advantage because I know a little more about what is going on in people's homes. Lolly also tells me about inappropriate things she hears and sees, Phoebe often keeps it to herself...

3. Phoebe is the real worry. I gave her a phone to use this year.  That is a portal of all sorts of mischief and danger if misused.  I recently went through her instagram feed.  I thought I was all good putting all her privacy settings up and not using her real name etc., but didn't realize she was just following whomever she wanted to.  I deleted many an account from her feed and replaced it with a group of LDS QUOTES instagrammers.  She begs me to stop following ldsmomsoftheworld  She loves QUOTE FEEDS (I don't know if that is a real term) with over grams about hunger games and divergent and disney.  Now she has a feed full of Quotes about Jesus. Can I get an AMEN?

4. The deal in our house is that we used to earn screen time by practicing.  Now the screens are put up on the kitchen counter (I am trying to put mine there too, it's taken some discipline) and permission to look at or use has to be asked for and granted based on general behavior and chore status etc.  The end of the chapter discuses creating a SUSTAINABLE family and one of the ideas was to play more with the kids.  I am trying to stretch my Mother Power a little further each day and I have committed to playing a game if everything gets done---see? This REPLACES the screen time? And it makes everybody happier/better.  Also, our nightly routine of reading a page of scripture no longer happens on electronics---it is only out of the ACTUAL pages of an ACTUAL book.

5. I was amazed at how much tech and sex get wrapped up in each other around age 12.  Sexting and photos on social media and email exchanges and texting and pornography are these traps that were not set back when I was a kid.  This is truly unchartered territory for me and I feel like I am in a race and just so far behind the leaders and struggling to catch up and anticipate the next bend in the road.  This part is what made me so fearful of parenting this tween of mine.  Though it does seem extremely complicated and draining and taxing and emotional and like a huge challenge-raising daughters-I was so glad that I didn't have a son after I read this book.  Penises. Pornography.

There is more, but basically I now look at the internet and smartphones as the devil's work.  I am fairly keyed up about it and trying to figure out how to navigate all of this and protect my girls.  After listening to this book and letting it sit for a few days, I then passed by the bodega and saw a cover for Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary Swimsuit Issue and found it to be so vulgar and vile and pornographic and just wanted to bury my head in my bed and lock all my girls in their rooms and never leave the house again. 


  1. This is a really interesting post. I agree w/ your last couple paragraphs, too. Smartphones are making some things easier, and some a lot more complicated. I appreciate the advice, and hearing your strategies, since I'm not that far behind you w/ my kiddos. Although I do have the boy.

  2. "There is more, but basically I now look at the internet and smartphones as the devil's work."

    ^ Are you quoting me here?!?!?! I live by this! haha. Honestly, that was one of my favorite things about serving a mission. I didn't realize how much I craved a real, authentic world until I was completely cut off from all technology. I didn't think I was THAT surrounded by it. The level of peace and real perspective in my life is in direct correlation with how much technology is in it at the moment. Thanks for sharing all your insights from this book. I'm sure I'll want to pick it up when I join the parenting world.

  3. As a mom to two boys (and I've got to read this book now after your later comment) who are younger than your girls, I really value when you have posts about some of the challenges that come beyond the preschool years of parenting. It helps give me an idea before I get there of some of the things I will need to read up on, think about, and be vigilant with. I'm sure it's not always easy to share publicly about some of these things, but it is so valuable to other parents!

    1. Thanks Laura. Yes I highly recommend the book to you! and thanks for your kind words.

  4. Kage, thank you so much for sharing this! I am so glad we crossed paths once and you have your wonderful blog sharing your discoveries. It is so generous and often really helpful for the many bumps we have on parenting road! Miss seeing you and your girls on the neighborhood!

  5. I am learning so much from you! This is all very interesting. You are doing awesome. You can get an AMEN! from me!