Teen Talk: Cyber Teens...

Teen Talk - Live

Chris is taking “Teen Talk” on the road. If you are a member of a parent group or responsible for finding engaging speakers for student or youth groups, please contact Chris at www.chrislincoln-speaker.com

Cyber Teens

The idea of teenagers appears to have been invented in the USA in the fifties. Before that time you were either a child or an adult. The demarcation was fairly abrupt and was ushered in by the requirement of work. It was expected that you “put away childish things,” and dressed, acted, and behaved as an adult. Outside the industrial world, this is often still true. The demarcation being marked by ceremony with the intent of announcing this change to those around you. Quite literally presenting you as ready to procreate and all that that entails. Responsibility is not given gradually, but in one fell swoop, and failure is not an option.

From James Dean and Marlon Brando onwards, a new paradigm was recognized. This new being, neither fully child nor adult, acquired multiple defining attributes, such as clothing, music and manner of speech. Adults were horrified, children intrigued but excluded. The specific age of teenagers is hard to pin down, but, in the beginning, probably started in high school and ended post college, and has expanded in both directions since.

Here in California the demarcation between child and teen has become close to impossible to assign an age to, with a new category, tween slipped in for the sake of a loose definition. This raises many issues in families, with the tween pushing the age limit ever further down, and parents concerned about ‘growing up too early’.

In an affluent society these tweens and teens are a much-coveted group as they have disposable income that they are very keen on disposing. Advertisers work hard to get a piece of their limited attention span and in turn have prepackaged the expectations of the generation.

A good illustration is the debate in many homes as to what age your child-tween-teen should have a cell phone, or a computer, or join Facebook (18, really?)

It truly is a loaded question. The asker feels they have right to be connected to their friends, the askee frets over Internet safety and privacy. I’ve heard parents say, “What on earth does he/she (normally she) need a phone for? What on earth do they have to talk about?”

Not the point…

It has become the latest rite of passage, and way more complex than; what time to go to bed, or what TV programs you can watch. Parenting has been ramped up a notch, and the shoreline of childhood is fast eroding.

The child has a point. They have been bombarded from without by targeted advertising and from within by their friends. This double-teamed impact on the impressionable, at an age where traditionally adults have done everything they can to remove worry and responsibility, is horrendous.

The parents have a point. Children do not generally value expensive equipment, seeing them as an extension of (cool) toys, and they are guileless to the extreme. The idea of protecting their identity or privacy is alien to their childlike view of the world, and thus they put themselves at great risk.

And as the adult, do you really want to have the conversation about cyber stalking and perverted men who see innocence as sexual?

Thought not.

So, maybe that is the defining component of the new rite of passage; this transition from the innocence of childhood to the awareness of the underbelly of humanity. The cool phone, Glee, a laptop, Justin Bieber, and the Twilight saga, are all part of the siren song of grow up faster.

Who gains by shortening childhood? Certainly not the child. I don’t think many parents are in a hurry to contract childhood and expand the teen years, so that leaves the sellers of stuff. Your child as cannon fodder for the consumerist society, is an ugly thought.

The “cool” parents, ie hyper-permissive parents (should parents be in parentheses?) have always provided ammunition for other people’s children to launch at their parents. With cries of, “You just don’t get it!” several generations of teens have berated their un-hip, square, or fuddy-duddy, parents, bemoaning their great misfortune of being born onto their particular family.

The thing is, the battles were smaller somehow. Long hair, spiked hair, or no hair may be at odds with your taste, but hair grows…(Hair and bedtimes were my personal challenges), and staying out late, and dating have truly concerning components, but nothing has ever been as intrusive to family life as today’s technology.

It is hard to keep your child away from negative influences when they carry Pandora’s box in their pocket. “All” their friends are just a text away. With YouTube glorifying teen stupidity and Facebook and Skype keeping teens in touch twenty-four-seven, every thought and action has become shareable.

This should mean that teens should never feel alone or isolated, but in fact the opposite is reported.

Now, even Pandora was left with hope, and lest this all sound too depressing, it appears that, as always, parents have found good workable solutions.

One I endorse without hesitation is that whatever medium you child is allowed, you have to be there with them. You must be a Facebook friend, you must be able to enter whatever chatrooms or forums they are interested in. This access is a non-negotiable item if they want to use the net. Cyber parenting means you have their codes and passwords and check in regularly.

This is the price of cyber freedom. It is not about prying into their business, it is about being a parent, truly being a guardian.

If this ground rule is established with the child’s first access, it quickly becomes the child’s norm. It is harder to impose retroactively. Several teens have told me that they have absolutely no problem with this, they like that their friends know that their things are monitored, it reduces the extreme, odd, weird or nasty messages, they receive. Girls tend to be more comfortable than boys with this. Boys prefer same-gender monitoring, so dad needs to step up to the plate.

Another easy rule to implement is that your teen can use the computer without restriction, but is never allowed to delete the history. As the adult you quickly check the history once a week or so, and set it back to the default. Not prying, monitoring, and if you see sites that cause you concern, discuss, don’t accuse.

The paradigm has shifted for children and adult alike, and adaptation is the key…

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Comments 23 comments

Summer Fish 5 years ago

I agree on all fronts... I've found FB very informative, I my get "nothing" when I ask whats going on at school, but I can quickly check his page and know exactly what's going on. And yes we've always had the rule that there is no privacy on the computer and I know all passwords, check history and am his "friend". In return, I respect him and don't post embarrassing comments or even bring up anything that isn't necessary. Kind of like letting them go to the movies by themselves although mom is sitting incognito in the back row.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Great analogy - there but not there - and sound parenting.

I have never heard a kid genuinely complain that their parents care too much!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

You're correct. Prior to the fifties, childhood ran to around thirteen and adulthood began around sixteen. The years between varied according to individual maturity.

Parents need to be adults, willing to set boundaries. Kids need and desire boundaries, despite their protestations to the contrary. Having those limitations makes them feel safe and loved. Just don't expect them to ever admit it.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thanks for adding to the conversation - I really would not like to have young kids right now, it has become so complex...


sunflowerbucky profile image

sunflowerbucky 5 years ago from Small Town, USA

I agree, Facebook is actually a great way to see what is going on in your child's world. As you said, if the child and the friends know they are monitored from the start,it helps. I can tell within five minutes which kids are not monitored at all. Good stuff!

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

It really is Chris! Having an 11 year age gap has proven that to me! I do allow my girls to have a facebook - I monitor them and who their "friends" are. I also comment on their pages so their friends will know mommys watching! They all know me - I am at their school twice a week. That scares them:-)

My 22 year old girl had someone from her church group make a very ugly comment - I intruded and said - "this is laurels mother - you should not have said that - now go and pray!". She is 22! She thought it was funny and it made her feel better:-)

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thank you. Interestingly I have not heard from any of my under 18 friends about this hub - they usually have pretty strong reactions. They don't reply here of course, where adults can see them - they send me facebook messages, so their friends can read!

Funny creatures...


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


"scares them" really means "know you", and that is a positive, secure thing I'm sure.

I like your response for your older daughter - Don't mess with The RealHousewife!!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank you! And the thing that really bothered me is that one friend said something negative - then others added to it from her church group) she had broken up with a church elders son. I couldn't stand it - I wanted them to remember that if they are Good Christians - you don't jump on the band wagon like that! She tried to spare this boy's feelings as best she could, she is very sensitive that way - many of the kids did apologize - sad thing - now she's looking for a new church. She is embarrassed to be with them now. She feels judged and the burden is heavy for her.

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 5 years ago from Indiana

I let Chelsea have a facebook account, but I'm constantly having to remind her to check it. If it weren't for the fact that we're friends and I can access her account she would never know what her friends are up to, or when she had a message.

Having a cyber-unfriendly kid is... is... well I guess, actually, it's kind of nice.

It is a scary world out there. She's only 13, so I'm holding my breath for the next 5 years...

Great hub, and as usual, great advice!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


As with everything, it comes down to the quality of the relationship between parent and child. Your situation is so very different from the norm, spending as much time together as you do, with bonds forged on a very hot fire!

Don't hold your breath, enjoy every second finding the joy in life, besides blue is not a color most people can carry off!

Truth is, the hubpages community is very greatful that Chelsea monitors your online behavior for us :)

Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 5 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Not too sure I can offer too much one way or the other here, A) Not being a parent and B) being so far distant from my own teen years.

To me it is obvious that many things have changed and not necessarily for the better. Kids today don't seem that much different mentally from the ones I remember years ago that could swing from Child to Adult and back again in a conversation.

Peer pressure is greater today and that undoubtedly comes from TV and then the Internet.

The introduction of Human Rights Laws, Political Correctness and Health and Safety legislation hasn't helped anything. That and the blurring of the lines between State led interference and parenting hasn't solved anything either.

So is it any wonder that we have created one or two generations of confused mini adults.... too old to be kids too dumb to be of any use to society.

Didn't our generation do a good job ? now we are reaching the stage where there is more of us than them and we are handing the mess over to them with a sickly smile on our faces saying You Sort It Out !

Loveslove profile image

Loveslove 5 years ago from England

My grandchildren have a joint site on my computer but its open..NO PASSWORD..so I can check it at any time, they are all under 15 and do not have Facebook accounts and do not have a problem with this arrangement..If they did they wouldnt be allowed on my computer take it or lump it !! Good Hub

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I do remember that at twenty I had all the answers!

It was the changing of the questions that messed it up...


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I'm glad to see how many hubbers "get it", but that may be because by being here we are already a little more tech savvy...

The number of times I have sat with parents because their child is crashing and burning and found that they never check, monitor, or even discuss computer and phone use, amazed me. To allow a teenage boy unrestricted access to the net with a computer in his bedroom, a place you don't go into "for his privacy" is lunacy.

"I didn't know he would look at porn..." Get real...

Every "ism" from race to sex is catered for at levels from interesting to extreme. Teens are natural enquirers, inquisitive to the max, cyber parenting means being there and applying adult guidance.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting - certainly a hot topic!


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris, Isn't a teenager someone between thirteen and nineteen? I haven't ventured onto face book as yet, but my wife uses it regularly and has a good rap-ore with our extended family and their friends. We always turned the TV off at mealtimes and discussed topical events in an open manner. Have we become older versions of our kids by getting hooked on hubpages? It's a good question, i think. Cheers mate wise words from our headmaster.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


More like nine and twenty nine!

And, yes I believe we are exactly like our kids, with one exception, hubbers tend to supportive and positive, the kids can get negative very quickly...

Hubpages Headmaster - I like that, it has a nice ring to it (If I didn't also write about farting in nursing homes...)

C :)

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

That would have a nasty ring to it though. Yes we are more supportive, you pillock.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I can feel the love...


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Good hub,thanks

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


And thanks, once again, for leaving a comment, much appreciated,


Teen Dad 5 years ago

Hooked on your hubs.

I like how you don't talk down. Experts drive me crazy most of the time.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thanks for reading

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