MSN and the art of letting go.

Kids don’t communicate by talking any more. They MSN. Sometimes whole romantic relationships go on this way and when they see each other they are almost awkward. It is like a relationship with a pen pal. But it is not the same as a telephone relationship. Then you hear voice inflexion, emotion, and mutual laughter. A dialogue that is verbal is different from texting.

They can be lost in their MSN world for hours, talking to perhaps 4 people at once, back and forth. Sometimes they even pretend to be someone they’re not so that they can deceptivley find out if someone “likes them.”
I brought this up at dinner the other evening. My sweet eldest had no idea that impersonating someone for your own gains was wrong. She simply didn’t see it like that since “everyone did it.” I asked her how she’d feel and she immediatly widened her eyes and realized what it meant.

It is fine line. Teaching awareness, self confidence, self esteem, and empathy is hard. Mostly you need to teach by example ( and that is not always easy) and often you need to just point it out.

If my daughter relaxes by spending most of sunday on MSN, in the pouring rain, after a busy week, with all her possessions in boxes and her room in ruins, is it a bad thing? Better or worse than a day in front of Hannah Montana and other Disney kack?

Parents need to let go and hold on all at once. Let go too much and you not only lose the control but the dialogue too. Hold on too tight and they harbour more secrets than usual. MSN is here to stay. I cannot forbid it nor ban it. I can control the hours spent on it but I cannot prevent either of my girls from communicating the way all her friends do. I hear that if you miss a night of MSN banter, you miss a lot and arrive at school a little out of the loop. Being a teen is hard enough, we don’t need to make it harder.

But still.
I pause for thought and wonder if my internet free childhood was that much better?


Filed under I have two girls, Teenagers

4 responses to “MSN and the art of letting go.

  1. biglittlewolf

    Enjoyed your musing. Each child – each teen – is so different. I guess time spent in the online world is a matter of degree, and the other ways the child communicates. The extent to which we have trust in the judgment of our teens or can mitigate the consequences of what they see, read, explore.

    We managed to get our hands on plenty of topics 20, 30 and 40 years ago – with or without our parents’ knowledge. Current technology has its pros and cons, security advantages and possible hazards, like everything else.

    No easy answers. No handbook. Just vigilance, listening, teaching by example – as you said – and love.

  2. agree with the wolf…

    hours can be managed with the newer OSes (Vista/OSX) and also shut down times… you can also manage who they interact with online thru MSN… using the Family Safety…

    continue to lead by example

  3. zed

    I’m not at all worried about the time my daughters spend on MSN (although they are almost 20 and are old enough to know their limits) as they have a lot of friends and are out often.

    I have had to cut down on my son’s use of the computer for many reasons, but the main one is his poor control of French and English due to the ‘txt spk’ used in MSN conversations. The trouble is, he relies on ‘txting’ via his GSM instead and so is none the better in the end.

  4. kate k

    hey–just read this article after reading your last entry (because what else could follow you but the NYTimes?!!) and thought you might enjoy it.
    And I see that you posted the OTHER blog that you mentioned the other night…might have to put down Mr. Perfect for a bit…:)

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