I just finished reading this book, Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence by Candice M. Kelsey, and I’m nearly speechless. My kids are still quite young so the whole myspace phenomenon may be old news by the time they’re teenagers, so why did I read it?
I read it because, first of all, I figured I’m partially part of this “Generation Myspace”. These kids like to say they’re the first to grow up with the internet their whole lives. I hate to break it to them but *wrong* … While maybe it’s not common for those in my age group (I’m 28 years old), computers have been part of my life since I was a pre-schooler. And we were the first family amongst my friends that had internet. (Prodigy!)
Perhaps the internet was somewhat lame compared to what it is now. We didn’t have myspace, but we had BB’s (Bulletin Boards).
Anyway, I picked up this book because I thought it would be a good chuckle. I thought, “This’ll be funny. Some old fuddy duddy has written about myspace and teenagers and the evilness of it all.” … Because truth be told, before reading this, I identified with “Generation Myspace” just as much as my own “MTV Generation ” … How I feel after reading it is a whole different story.
While reading this book I felt as if I was reliving some of my own teenage angst from some of the situations described. The chapter on what girls face sexually was downright frightening. While I also went through years of seeking male attention in inappropriate ways, I also did not have the platform that these girls have. Teenagers today have the ability to post personal and graphic photos and videos of themselves and too often, they do. The worst part of it is that they are so incredibly desensitized that they see nothing wrong with it. I’m not saying I was a saint, because I’d be struck by lightening, but I had a very clear moral compass of right and wrong. When I did something that was wrong, I knew it. These kids have no idea.
Like I said, I haven’t raised teenagers, so I don’t know how much a parent can protect them. It becomes difficult as teens naturally start to pull away from the family unit and come to respect the opinions of their peers more than any one else. But it seems to me that a lot of what is going on is simply a result of neglectful parenting. Many of the parents quoted in the book say idiotic things like, “I trust my daughter on the Internet. She’s a good kid.” … No! Bad parent! We do not trust our teens on the internet with their own computer in their bedroom with the door locked! It is our responsibility and our duty to protect them. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.
There is one chapter devoted to chat and text messaging style “lingo”. At first I scoffed. I mean, who doesn’t know what BFF (Best Fried Forever), ASL (Age, Sex, Location), LOL (Laughing out loud), and the like mean? How out of touch are these parents?
But then I read down the list and was shocked at the lingo I didn’t know. Here are a few (warning strong language):
CD9 – Code 9 (or Parents Are Around)
BOHICA – Bend Over, Here It Comes
GNOC – Get Naked On Cam (webcam)
GYPO – Get Your Pants Off
IDK – I don’t know
MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
PIR – Parents In Room
PAW – Parents Are Watching
KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless
If you’re surprised, this is mild compared to the rest of the book. I also found out that while kids have easy access to all kinds of illegal drugs via myspace, they also get high off of things around the house such as nutmeg, banana peels and peanut shells.
If you’ve got a teen, or even a young child, read this book. Prepare yourself and educate yourself so that you can protect your kids. We can’t put them in a big plastic bubble and keep them safe from everything out there, but just because something is a “normal” or “common” part of a culture or generation does not mean your child must participate. You’re the parent, so act like it. (And good luck.)