Ann is also from Marketing Profs, a site you should have bookmarked. But, I know her from Twitter and this neat blog she writes, Annarchy. She writes such wonderfully vivid and interesting stories, I actually forget I'm reading a blog post when I hop over to her blog.
Today she asked some folks at Twitter what our thoughts were on the "What Is a Friend" post... as it involved the use of social media tools to connect two little girls. Ann is a Mom, so she is especially sensitive about this - I mean, she was truly concerned about how this 9 year old and this 11 year old were using Skype to become friends. So much so, that it evolved into what Ann's daughter considered "play." Talking to her new, unmet in person, friend... was play.
A lot of people have expressed their thoughts, and I leave it to you to join the conversation. But, I am looking at it differently. I am wondering how my granddaughter feels about using the Internet... a place I know her mother does not let her venture into, very often. She's a Webkinz fan, she used to do the Barbie thing online, and I know she occasionally does email. But, she isn't wedded to the net, yet.
In fact, her mother would likely not allow her to have a Skype account of her own. Something Ann admits that her daughter has. My granddaughter's mother (my eldest daughter) is the outdoor type - and prefers to see her daughter in that element. Not in front of the TV or on the computer.
Will she have much control over that, going forward? Is Ann doing it right - by allowing (with supervision, I believe) her daughter to make use of digital technology - to create and form friendships? Across the miles? I'm of the mind that the future is now and parents need to understand that some things are out of their control. Not out of their supervision - but, their control. Kids will use the Internet, and blogs, and social sites...and woe be it to the parent who denies them.
Still...as I said to Ann, I remember the days of building forts in the empty lot at the corner. Of running wild all over the neighborhood, without worry of being kidnapped or lured off by a sex predator. I remember basking in the warmth of summer days on my own, and in piling into heaping tall snowbanks for fun... and never once thinking the ringing phone was for me, and of not wondering what I was missing inside - on TV.
Those days are gone. Children are not let out alone, anymore. They use TiVo the way we used Etchasketch. So... is Skype the new penpal tool? Is it better, more connective? Are we missing something...by allowing our kids to be so caught up in social networking?
I don't think so. But, I still hanker back to those good old days of yore.