I love it. I hate it. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel entertained. The accessibility of it keeps me well-informed. The convenience of it sometimes disconnects me from others. It’s a paradox.
You know, when I give my kids their tablets, it’s usually because I need a shower or a break or just a moment without being pulled in 5,000 different directions… and despite all my mom guilt and resentment with the use of screen time, sometimes I really welcome the distraction those magical devices bring to my children. It’s not something I’m proud to admit. It’s certainly never my grandest moment as a parent. But it’s real life and while I’m speaking some raw and honest truths here, let me just go ahead and lay it all out…
Why do I feel guilty? …because technology makes me feel like a lazy parent.
Why do I resent it? …because I feel like it turns my kids into zombies.
Why am I afraid of it? …because the enormity of the internet terrifies me.
Parents, have you heard of the ‘momo challenge’? This ‘game’ is circulating all over the news and social media and is (one of) the very reasons I find the internet so terrifying. Momo is a disturbing character who reportedly appears in the middle of child-directed content (like YouTube or kidsTube) and encourages viewers to perform increasingly dangerous tasks. Momo asks for photos as proof of task completion and threatens those who do not perform her requests. The requests start small but apparently escalate to more serious acts including self-harm and suicide.
This cannot be real but according to various news outlets, there have been 3 deaths allegedly connected with this awful ‘challenge’. Now listen, I’m a pretty cautious person and try not to believe everything I read on the internet, but this seems serious. A quick search on google revealed various articles and videos warning of ‘momo’s’ grave dangers, as well as skeptics claiming that the ‘momo challenge’ is an urban legend and actually not real due to lack of live captured footage. Listen, I don’t know what to believe but I do know this:
My children watch YouTube kids.
My children use their devices.
My children are not supervised every waking moment that their swiping and navigating throughout their tablets. (Please don’t judge me. The games and apps they use are ones I’ve downloaded with trust that they’re educational and safe. I’m doing my best over here while simultaneously realizing there’s room for improvement).
My children are young and naïve.
My children might be being targeted.
Yours might be too.
Parents, we live in a digital world full of opportunities for engagement, learning, and connecting. Technology is everywhere. In fact, my 5-year-old daughter even has a ‘tech class’ as part of her kindergarten curriculum. Technology isn’t going anywhere and we can’t hide our kids in a safeguard bubble. So what can we do?
We can have conversations. We can monitor the content our children use. We can talk about the dangers of the internet and social media. We can stress the importance of reporting things that make us feel uncomfortable. We can make sure our children know that if something doesn’t seem right, they should come to us. If something is bothering them, scaring them, or pressuring them… we can make sure they know that we are here to help them.
Technology is awesome guys, but it can be dangerous.
The world is a great place, but there are some seriously sick people out there.
Make sure you’re talking to your kids.