Tuesday, December 22, 2009

let kids be kids....

We live in a society that glamorizes growing up. Our children are encouraged to act older--wear make-up, color their hair, wear trendy clothing and high heel shoes--as young as 5. The only difference in the clothing in Emma's department and Michaela's is the size of the mini skirts and low cut blouses. It seems as if society wants our children to grow up quickly; to not be children. Children are encouraged to take on choices and make adult decisions without the benefit of having experienced life or the opportunity to mature into adulthood. Yet, when they make poor choices, there is an outcry about the increase in teen sex, rampant drug abuse and alcoholism--as if the reason is unclear.

This past August, right before Michaela's 13th birthday, we received the following email from MSN regarding our rights in regards to Michaela's online activity.

Dear parent or guardian:

According to the birth date provided for your child's Microsoft online account, Miki Jr. is now 13 years old. You are therefore no longer able to manage permissions for the Miki Jr. account through Account Services, and your child may create a new account without your permission.

United States law requires websites and services to obtain parental permission to collect, use, or share personal information from children under 13. Because this child is now 13, you can no longer manage permission for this child for Microsoft online services.

I was stupefied. Lawmakers feel that a CHILD at the age of 13 is capable of making intelligent decisions about the internet and the things that go on??? With sexual predators and pedophiles targeting youth on the internet, we as parents have no legal authority to monitor our child's account??? Microsoft I have to disagree. BECAUSE my daughter is 13 I will be monitoring her online activity. I will continue to manage her passwords. I will continue to control when she can get on, how long she stays on, and the sites she goes to. I am the adult. She is a mere child Microsoft; a child learning the necessary knowledge to keep herself safe.

And then last week at the eye doctor, after asking me general medical history, Dr. Hamilton stated that because Michaela is over 12 by law he has to ask her some questions.

"Do you drink or take drugs?" "Are you sexually active?" "Do you have or have you ever had an STD?"

WHAT???? At the age of 12 the law requires these questions to be asked? 12!

We are in such a hurry to have our children grow up. We allow our 5 year olds to dress as if they are 16. We allow our 13 year olds unlimited, unmonitored access to the internet, movies, music, and books. Our children are given privileges and put into situations that they are not mature enough to handle, and then we as parents are appalled when they make poor decisions and our 12 year olds have to be asked about STDs.

While Michaela gets aggravated that she cannot get onto her accounts without me, that she can only be on the computer when her Daddy and I are home, and that the computer is on only in a common area, along with the grumbling and eye rolls, I am creating an atmosphere of security and accountability for her. And by checking her Facebook page and emails, I know that I am doing the best thing for her--not because I do not trust her, but because I want her to be a child and not worry about adult things.

And one day she will thank me... I hope:)