Tom is too old to be embarrassed anymore. He’s secure enough to admit that he is a techno-idiot when it comes to emerging social-media trends and developments. And he’s just crotchety enough to doubt the effectiveness and longevity of any of it. Remember Andy Rooney on Sixty Minutes? He’s beginning to sound like him. He still pines for his portable Underwood typewriter that got him through college, which then was replaced when an IBM Selectric was foisted upon him. It had its own “erase” key! What in the world was Tom to do with all his bottles of Wite-out! Then came his first word processor. He thought processors chopped celery and made juice! He just wanted to write—not process words.
Your teen as teacher
We’ve written before about how social media has created a lot more communication but far less community. Well, we’re here to admit that this may just be the perfect opportunity for dads and teenagers to relate to one another.
If Bill’s sons were starting their teens again, they would already be head and shoulders above him in social-media literacy. What great teachers they would make—and dad would be their pupil. They could patiently instruct him about writing on walls, snapping, and “friending” or “unfriending” someone. He would be learning from his sons, and he and his sons would be involved in constructive (if not humbling) communication.
Work in a life lesson
So, dad, let go! Admit that you’re a bit behind your teenagers in Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and YouTube, not to mention those thousands of apps. By the way, Wikipedia currently lists over 200 social network sites. Ask your kids to help you get up to speed. At the same time, you can be learning all the caveats of the social media craze—the pitfalls to knowing and seeing all. Grown-ups don’t have to be techno-whizzes to understand how this kind of open access to people’s lives can be harmful, even devastating. So while you’re learning from your teenagers, you also have the opportunity to teach them to be careful, to be smart and not to allow social media to steal their privacy and degrade their humanity.
Exchanging knowledge and wisdom—a darn good deal
Quite frankly, that’s the beauty of this tutoring arrangement between parents and their offspring. Today’s kids can open worlds with a click, a swoop, a link, an up or download. They know the mechanics. They can make A, B, C and D connect, interact and go viral! Mom and dad can offer some wisdom in what should and shouldn’t be copied, pasted and plastered throughout cyberspace. Parents have been around for awhile. They have experienced such unvirtual and sometimes unvirtuous monsters as accountability and consequences … those avatars that materialize as the result of acting without thinking.
Sounds like a win-win arrangement!