Monday, 26 March 2012
Age of innocence
DD2 was fast asleep last night when I realised she hadn't put her phone on to charge and I asked DD1 to plug it in. Big sister couldn't resist having a sneaky peak at her messages and immediately reappeared looking horrified. A 'chat' had just come through from a boy in her class. It was a list of twenty 'options', with the instruction for her to choose the one she'd like him to do to her, or her to him, with the final reassurance 'choose whatever you fancy, I'll keep it between us'. I'm not going to list them here, and actually the only one I could list without using asterisks was "I want to play naked Twister with you" but suffice to say it shocked my worldly almost 14 year old.
I replied to this boy saying I'm DD2's mum and if I see any more messages like this I'll involve the school and his parents. He quickly deleted it, but not before DD1 had the presence of mind to screen grab it in case of repercussions. A quick call around showed that at least one other child received the same message but from a different boy.
I'm not naive. If DD1 had received it from one of her friends I'd have rolled my eyes (though she said she's never received anything that bad). But DD2 is only just 11 years old, for gods sake! And if we'd not seen it, that would have been the first thing she'd have been exposed to when she woke up this morning and sleepily checked her messages, as they do, to discuss such important things as who's taking their scooter to school. Instead I had to explain what happened, apologise for the invasion of privacy and warn her that the boy might say something at school. All of which she was fine with.
Thing is, I've given my kids all the advice I can about stranger danger and online safety, and their privacy settings are all on maximum, yet this boy is someone she sees every day and has done since she was four. However, it would be unfair to single him out if others are sending it around and I can only imagine what went through his little mind last night when I replied, especially as he knows me as a volunteer at a club he attends. The fact that others are sending it makes it worse. What is going on with our kids that this is seen as an acceptable form of fun at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night? When my brother was that age, the only chopper he was interested in had gears and wheels.
Much has been written about the early sexualisation of our kids and I'm not going to go into that here, but I want to believe these children don't send it it with full intention. Perhaps they think it makes them look cool. Or, it could be they've already seen enough of this stuff to be immune to it. If it is the latter, that's the greater concern for us all, frankly.
Posted by Paula - ivegotadrill