One of the best parts of parenting a teen in 2021 is all the links about crap they constantly send you – said no parent ever.
Even when he’s in class, my 13-year-old Winston manages to send me sh*t I really don’t want to see at that moment. If I am forced to watch another video of a speeding Mustang, I’ll scream.
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Of course, how cool is it that when he sees something funny or interesting he sends it to me. I love it. I want him to do it forever. So I do watch everything he sends me – to see what he enjoys – and as part of our relationship.
But more importantly, I learnt early on that I need to see what he’s learning.
When Winston first started doing this he was a couple of years younger and his mind was ripe for influencing. So, I could point out that although he was impressed by how many clicks and followers an influencer had, if it was achieved by a base prank on someone, was it worth it?
Fads like the throwing cheese on babies faces viral idiocy wasn’t funny.
And I’ve always warned Winston about hero worship of the big influencers like David Dobrik - who has 18 million subscribers on YouTube and is famous for giving away luxury cars - and is now entangled in sexual assault allegations against his team.
That’s an example of how the stakes are higher now - the content is more serious and can truly influence a young mind. So, I’m paying even closer attention and using clips as opportunities to open or continue conversations, so Winston doesn’t turn out to be socially unaware... AKA, a dickhead.
Here are some examples of links he’s sent and the conversations we’ve had after.
This is a big one on social media as we all know. Winston tells me that people are usually good these days at calling this stuff out, but bullying about body shape still happens.
Last year, he sent me this clip to ask me if it was true -