“Hey, Mom!” said Declan. “I can post to Facebook and I don’t even have one.”
I wasn’t listening. There are two categories of things that come out of kid’s mouths–things to ignore, and things we should notice.
This was from the second category. The radar was alerting, the red flags waving. We were sitting together. Me, writing and drinking coffee. He was playing a game on the iPad. He was quiet, just the way I liked him when he was up too early and I still wanted to write and drink coffee.
“Mom, you got a text.” I saw a notifier flash across the iPad screen. He clicked, read, and started to answer. I snatched the iPad.
“No, that’s my text.”
“Well, it’s on my iPad,” he said.
“It’s not your iPad. It’s mine. I’m sharing.” I said. He didn’t know he should say possession is nine-tenths of the law. “Besides, how do you post to Facebook if you don’t have one?” Asking kids is a delicate operation–if you seem too interested, they clam up forever. You have to ask just right or be good at lip-reading. I can do both.
“I just hit the button,” he said.
I just hit the button…
The seriousness of his announcement sunk in, visions of collateral damage dancing in my mind. “I can post to Facebook and I don’t even have one…Hey, Mom, you got a text…”
The iPad! I thought I had stripped it of anything useful, leaving only Pandora, Kindle, Netflix, and Hulu behind.
I heard Siri giggle.
Forgetting to remove Facebook, text, or Twitter? Rookie mistakes, nearly as dangerous as leaving an unlocked phone face up at a party or a credit card with a sign that says “Please use me!” on my desk at school.
I wondered how many things Declan had posted on my behalf…how many dragons I’d slain and badges I’d earned according to Facebook. Now I knew why I keep getting so many game invites even though I delete every single one.
I had no one to blame but myself. Kids are slick. There are a lot of loopholes when it comes to technology. Kids’ll find them. The other day a student was doing a research paper about a hate group. She needed access to some information school had blocked.
“So look it up on your phone,” I said. I told her I’d been blocked researching a prominent financial newsletter for class.
“But I need to print.”
“No you don’t–you just need the information.” Two minutes later she arrived, papers in hand. “I took a screen shot, emailed it to myself, and printed. Some kids will solve any problem. Mine causes them.
It was a teachable moment for both of us. I explained texts are private and only the person they are for gets to read and answer them.
“It’s not private,” he said, “It just interrupted my game and I died.”
Note to self: change the settings on the iPad and strip it clean.
“Can I have a Twitter, Mom?”
“What do you want to do with it?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t need a Twitter. But I saved your name for when you do.” I read an article about people naming their babies based on available domain names. If that’s the case, I’ll soon have tons of students whose names I can’t spell. I was lucky. Even at age six, Declan’s name was available so I bought it. Now he can famous somewhere down the road.
“Can I have Facebook?” he asked.
“No.” I checked my social media. There were no weird games or badges posted. I was safe–for now.
“You’re not going to take away YouTube, are you?” For kids, TV is passé. Nobody wants to grow up and be a movie star anymore. They’re all going to be famous YouTubers. “Comment, like, and subscribe,” Declan says as he records himself on PhotoBooth.
“No. You’re not in trouble. I’m just telling you my stuff is private.” And teaching myself to secure it much better.
The best kind of lessons are when nobody’s in trouble, there’s nothing to dig out of, and both parties get to keep on keeping on.
This was one of those days. I got up, poured more coffee, and we continued to work side by side.
“You’re never going to change the password on the iPad, Mom,” Declan said. “Moms always forget.”