Jul. 31st, 2014

Hanging out with the family last Saturday, the nevvies are really growing up. The younger one is faster at verbal skills than the older one (the younger one is a noticeably better speller and reads much more quickly), but the older one is working in math classes above his age range. He's going into 7th grade this fall, new school that is much bigger and will have a locker and have to move around from class to class (I remember that!); but it's only a few blocks away from his house, and when the school had an orientation for new students he saw a lot of kids he'd played soccer with were going to be there too, so it's not like it's all new faces.

I hadn't thought about the role that playing soccer or other activities would play in helping the kid find his feet socially as he moves along. Since I never did team sports, they always look to me like just a sport, not very interactive--you go, you play, when do you meet the players on the other teams? But apparently with enough time and energy eventually you do. And I guess every year he meets a batch of other kids who are on his team, that he trains with for the season and becomes friends with. That would give him a broader network than just the kids in his own school classes.

They aren't on Facebook yet, though my sister-in-law said it would likely be soon, they are just trying to figure out how to make it work--I can't imagine having to come up with rules for kids' internet use. The only metaphor I have is my parents' rules on TV use: only certain shows, only a certain amount of time per day. That doesn't really translate into rules for internet use--time limitations are one thing, and webnannies will do something for limiting which sites they can go to, but there's still the question of netiquette, how not to be a troll, how to recognize and handle trolls (how do you even bring that up when you don't know what they might see?), how to avoid flame wars, how to try to review what content they are seeing (my mom always knew what books I was reading and could talk to me about them if they were at all problematic, but tracking what websites these kids have seen would be a bit more challenging!).

How not to be a jerk online: 12 easy steps. :)
But there's still the question of what will they see, how to get them to think about what they see, how to respond to it (think critically? Talk to mom? Look for other sources or points of view on it? Evaluate the source of the website?) even if they aren't actually commenting on it, etc. Not like I expect my nevvies would turn into those monsters who killed someone after falling for that Thin Man story or whatever it was--but why didn't those kids' parents know what their kids were up to? Somebody was not paying attention, hadn't taught their kids about right and wrong obviously, but also about not believing everything you see on line, and how to make judgments about it.



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