I have one request to all you parents out there. Ok, that’s probably a lie….I tend to request a lot of things (my husband would probably use the word ‘demand’ but he’s not reading this at the moment); but as a parent I want to beg all you wonderful, loving, enthusiastic parents out there to STEP AWAY FROM SNAPCHAT!
For those of you going: “What the hell is Snapchat?” please feel free to skip this blog post if you wish, as it doesn’t pertain to you. But the rest of you social media sleuths and stalkers of those pesky teens and preteens we call our ‘greatest gifts’, please, please, back away from your child’s last known hide out from the adults.
They said it wouldn’t happen, but it did. All of the adults broke down the barricades of Facebook, and then Twitter, and now Instagram. What was once a cheeky, fun space for kids to interact and post their duck-face selfies and send funny jokes and memes to each other, has now become the ultimate domain for adults and businesses to relentlessly post their daily lives through perfectly edited food, pet and baby photos. Ultimately, we adults took Facebook by storm and made it uncool. Once we were finished with Facebook, we carried on to Twitter and Instagram (don’t even go there with Pinterest, that’s an entire book in itself!), and our poor children are left sharing their social media space and at times, their embarrassment, with their mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even their dogs.
When I was a kid, we had secret hide-outs, forts that we built, played in the hills and neighbouring woods for hours and lingered in the backyard, far away from the adults who were busy doing god only knows what, because when I was young, I just didn’t care. I had a diary with a lock and key ( truthfully I lost the key, so technically it wasn’t locked) that I shoved in the bottom of my closet, and I talked with friends on the phone that was located in the kitchen, far away from my parents who were watching hockey in the living room. Times were so simple and so perfectly set with clear lines of territory visible– adults’ areas, kids’ areas. These were adhered to willingly for the most part, because who the hell wanted to be in the adult area? Never mind the fact that the parents absolutely did not want to be anywhere near the kids’ area, unless it was to carry out some for of discipline.
Somewhere along the lines, things have changed, and social media and the Internet are now the most prominent and powerful tools for communication, education, and parenting. In today’s world, everyone uses social media and it’s part of our mundane rituals of daily living. But in doing so, we adults have ended up hijacking our children’s outlets, and have held them hostage with our constant posting and tweeting. Naturally, over the years, more and more kids have stopped using Facebook and even Twitter. Instagram is still a significant tool for the teens, but the newest form of the teen culture, the Anti-Establishment and Anti-Authority of the new millennium, is Snapchat. I had no idea what the hell it was when my kids kept referencing it, and when my daughter was home for Christmas she was showing me how to use it. I vowed right then and there, that I would not join Snapchat and create stories alongside my kids. Nope. Not going to do it, even if that puppy face add-on is so cute! Why? Because, this silly app is actually made for kids to use in a sort of Anti-Facebook Anti-Instagram protest that promotes them taking 30-second videos and real-time photos that they share ONLY with certain friends and then, poof, the item disappears. Don’t worry, they’re not sending naked pictures of themselves, (as many freaked-out moms are thinking), but rather, they are sending unedited, unfiltered, goofy, REAL photos and live videos of themselves in pure youthful fashion! Private jokes, silly songs, teen subculture and twentysomething conversations that we not only don’t understand, but that should be exclusively for our children’s eyes only. Of course we should be striving for an open, honest relationship with our children, but we should also give them some privacy. Like the type we all had growing up, when our parents drank beer and played cards with the neighbours on weekends and let the kids entertain themselves outside without adult supervision. The horrors!
Whatever ever happened to letting our kids be kids? They may not go outside and play Kick The Can, but Snapchat is a vital part of the modern-day teenage and young adult world that we adults should not have a VIP Pass for. We do not belong there. We should just keep posting our edited, filtered, perfect photos of our perfect lives and let our kids have theirs, complete with puppy faces and crowns of flowers with no-make up, sweatpants and ponytails. Children do not want to look and act perfect all of the time; they want to be silly and immature in a safe environment, which is what Snapchat is. Instead of Polaroids and passing notes in class, the kids now watch and send stories to each other and document real life, real-time teenage moments that are meant for them. And only them.
But don’t panic parents! We still have the rest of social media to dominate. And we still get to tell those teenagers to get off their phones and clean their rooms; for which they will probably do a live video of their perfect Mock Mom impersonation while pouting about having to clean their room. I guess some things never do change.