I have two teenagers, which means ALL conversations with them are now done electronically. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration; my 14-year-old did ask me, via her voice, for 20 dollars last weekend. I told her I had already spent the money on her data plan.
My wife and i have tried our best to stay on top of this constantly evolving stream of teen communication. However, I always seem to be one step behind. As soon as I proudly announced I had mastered the intricacies of Twitter, and knew the difference between a reply and a direct message (something former New York congressman Anthony Weiner never figured out incidentally) that same financially-challenged daughter replied not with congratulations but with laughter.
"Dad, nobody uses Twitter anymore. Instagram is where it's at."
Okay, guess I had better set up an Instagram account. After a month or so, I was ready to share my photos - mostly selfies of me in a lounge chair watching football - with my kids and request they follow me. Except they had moved on. Again.
"Dad, we're on Snapchat. Instagram is sooooooo 2015."
I downloaded the Snapchat mobile app. And, once I saw the plethora of unexplainable icons dotting my screen (why is there a moon in the upper left corner?) I gave up. My wife did as well. Still, our deep dive into the world of teen communication has resulted in one teaching moment that, so far seems to be working. Yes, we have their passwords and monitor their accounts from time to time. But we have found posing hypothetical questions works best when discussing the perils of posting comments and, more importantly, pictures on line. Here is our recipe. Simply fill in the blanks with the individuals of your choice.
"Would you be comfortable with:
(Name of relative)
(Name of close friend)
(Name of teacher or coach) seeing that picture and the comments below it forever and ever?"
A tip: Using a grandparent as the relative always brings them to their senses.