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  Friday, March 27, 2015
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Overwhelming Response to MYSPACE Article
By Brianne R. Fitzgerald RN, MPH

     The story I wrote last week referring to MySpace was not supposed to cause a war between Parents and their children this is supposed to be a forum for parents and children alike to discuss issues that occur in the fast paced world of 2006.  Parent and adolescent skirmishes and separation struggles are normal.  Kids want to be independent and on their own.  Parents try to guide them toward this endeavor.   The content of much on myspace.com does not support adolescent growth and development, and parents who see their kids, drunk, in provocative poses and using foul language for the world to see must take note.

     Parents are guides, enforcers of the rules and vital in the formation of morals and values for their children.  Are we as parents afraid of our children, afraid that they will be furious that we have invaded their space?  Should we call the parents of our children’s friends and tell them what we saw on the site?  Some parents are unwilling or afraid to confront what is right before their own eyes.  Our job as a parent is to guide, teach and bring up our own children.  This is a job that as one respondent to the column says, “Having a teenager means not ever having to worry.”  Take care of your own and leave the rest alone.

     The overarching themes that give cause for worry on this site are sexuality and substance use, two topics that historically we have done a bad job with.  For the record, “Just Say No” has never worked. 

     Sexual content is regularly marketed to all of us.  In 2003 83% of the top twenty TV shows watched by teens had some sexual content and 20% of those show showed sexual intercourse.  Music videos contain 93 sexual situations per hour.  The use of alcohol and drugs is prominent especially in the music video genre.  The Internet provides us with easy access to pornography and a steady stream of people willing to talk about sex online.  There are sites to teach you how to make methamphetamine and you can obtain drugs through the internet.   We have become de-sensitized to the sexuality we routinely see and we have become unable to tolerate any uncomfortable feeling, hence a “take a pill for this or have a drink to calm down” society.  Our children are just doing what they have seen in magazines, on TV and among their older peers.        

     Knowledge is power and parents need to get more of it to keep up with their wired kids.  There is a language of instant messaging that is evolving daily as evidenced by the message in the heading.  You may be surprised at what innocuous, indecipherable responses on the computer may really mean.  Ask your kids what BRB or N2M means.  Ask them what NIFOC means and see if they flinch or blush.   www.wiredsafety.org is a site that can help parents get some of the answers about the evolving World Wide Web. 

     Finally and as always what this issue comes down to be communication and awareness (as best we can) of what our children are doing, who their friends are and where they are.  Talking with our kids about how we want them to be safe, to make choices around the use of alcohol and their sexual appetites that they will not regret later in life will be difficult and if you can do it you will be among the select parents of this and past generations.  The problem today is that the stakes for bad things to happen seem greater.  For the kids, parents don’t need to know everything, but they need to know most of it if you are living in their house being supported by their hard work.  If you think that you are smarter than some of the sexual predators out there just read the paper.  If you think that you can drink and drug and “it will never happen to me” think about your friends or friends of friends who are no longer with us.  If you do not know a friend or friend’s friend who has gotten so drunk that they have had to have their stomach pumped, or someone who has OD’d on pills, or been sexually taken advantage of or died then consider yourself lucky.  Do not be afraid of your children, do not be afraid to set a limit, to say no or demand an explanation.  This is our job as parents. 

     For those interested in learning how often and what sites your children are on please let South Boston On-Line know and we will publish cues to help families better monitor the visited Internet sites.  Word to the wise though, many computer savvy kids know how to disable the “history feature”, so talking with your kids about this problem is best. 

     Next week, “Hearing from the kids about myspace.com.” and some responses from the parents.   bfitz38@msn.com.  

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