Family · Just my Thoughts

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Have you ever heard those words coming out of your mouth?  I am sure if you are the parent of a teenager, you probably have.  I know I have.  My biggest problem with those words is when it comes to something new in life – well, new relatively speaking.

I want my children to do as I say, and not as I do, in regards to internet safety.  Now, I will admit this is not the problem it was when I first got broadband internet over ten years ago.  Back then I had six kids living at home and the oldest was only 15.  I definitely did not want them doing what I was doing.

No, I am not doing anything horrible online.  As an adult, though, I allow myself to do some things I would not allow a pre-teen or teenager to do.

Let’s take this scenario.  You, the adult, talk to someone online for several months.  You have a fairly good repertoire but have never spoken on the phone or met each other.  You may have some mutual friends who vouch for the person but you may not.

You are throwing a big party.  It is going to be at your house.  You invite this person, giving detailed directions to your home and providing both your home number and your mobile number in case the new friend gets lost.  You do not think another thing of this.

Here is another scenario.  Your 14 year old is chatting with someone online.  It may be via IM or it may be via email.  This goes on for some time.  Your child tells you that this person is another teenager that lives a couple of towns over.  Suddenly, your child wants to, without an adult accompanying him, meet the online friend.  As a parent, you say no.  Then, your innocent 14 year old throws your inviting the online friend to the big barbecue.

I can see where the 14 year old would think these situations are the same but are they?  Do you allow the 14 year old to do as he wants?  OF COURSE NOT!

This is a case of “do as I say, not as I do.”  I have had this particular case thrown in my face several times.  The top instance is an instance that happened in my life.  The 14 year old is not but I will say I get snippy kids when I want to read messages sent to the 15 year old.  I do this frequently.  It is part of the agreement that he can use the computer.  I can check whenever I want.

Another issue is web cams.  How do we deal with this?  This video might help explain it.  It is funny but also scary.  Happens that all those involved are adults but who says some kid is not watching this or on Chatroulette.

How do you explain internet safety to your children?  How do you explain it to yourself?  Do you think adults should have different rules on internet safety than children or young adults?

17 thoughts on “Do As I Say, Not As I Do

  1. I don’t see this as a case of do as I say not as I do. I think internet safety is like other safety. Until they fully understand, they need more strict rules.

    For instance- if the ultimate rule is cross the street without getting hit, you wouldn’t tell that rule to an 18 month old and leave it at that. The rule would be “Don’t go in the street at all” and then, slowly, as the learned timing, depth perception, judgment in general you would give them more freedom (maybe let them cross on an empty street or with supervision) until someday they could cross a busy street by themselves.

    Same applies to internet. It would be ridiculous to tell my children that because THEY aren’t allowed to cross the street on their own, neither am I. In fact, seeing me cross the street helps teach them the proper and safe way to do it.

    I have the same rule as you with my kids- I get access to everything they do online. I get all the passwords. I am slowly teaching them the proper ways to interact online with blogs and chatting. As they learn, they will have more freedom. My oldest just started facebook and I am helping her learn that not everything is good to publish.

    1. This is true, Charlotte. My kids are much older than yours with my baby being the 15 year old. It is hard to explain to him why my judgment is better than his when it comes to people online.

  2. I’m going to be a mean old junkyard dog where safety is concerned with the girls. They are going to know that I’m watching them all the time.

    It can be scary out there!

    1. It is scary out there. I was excited about the Chatroulette improv until the guy in the bathroom. Who takes their web cam in the bathroom with them?

  3. My kids are still too young for the Internet issue to have reared its head, but there are many times a day in life with a toddler and an infant when “do as I say, not as I do” comes into play. I like Charlotte’s example of the 18 month old and crossing the street, and I imagine that, like both of you, I will apply many of the same rules that I do to the rest of our lives to their access to the Internet and social media.

  4. Oh, Nicki – you’ve touched a nerve! My dad used to say this ALL THE TIME and it drove me crazy. It’s almost as bad as saying “Because I said so!” or “Because I’m the parent!” I hated that kind of logic when I was young. Actually, I still hate the kind of logic. These should be last-resort answers to kids’ questions.

    BUT – you point out some very real, very serious issues where “Do as I say…” is really the only advice to give. It is necessary advice. I fear the challenges of raising kids in today’s age of connectivity. The Internet dramatically changes parenting.

    I think, with your kids, you MUST monitor them and set very strict limits with sharing info on the Internet. And the fact is, there are some things parents can do that kids can’t. There are some “do as I say, not as I do” situations. And we all realize that as we grow up.

    1. I hate that phrase, too, Eva. It was one of the only ways I could explain the problem, though.

      Monitoring is difficult. I am not one to stay up til all hours of the night. My kids, on the other hand… I have, if rules are not followed and I do look at histories, threatened but not needed to yet to find a way to shut the computer off at a certain time.

  5. I look at this a bit differently – probably because there was no internet when I was a kid and because IEP isn’t yet old enough for this to be an issue. So I have a broader interpretation. Don’t think about it as “do as I say…” but as a double standard.

    As a child (and teen!) it was made abundantly clear to me that there was a double standard in our family. As a child I was NOT entitled to the same privileges and behaviors that my mother was. Admittedly, I hated the double-standard and thought it was utterly unfair. But I had trouble arguing with it.

    As much as they may dislike it, I think kids are very acquainted with the fact that they can’t do many things they’d like to do simply because they’re kids. (“You can pick the radio station when it’s your car.” “You can set your own curfew when you’re 22.” Etc.) So you’re in familiar territory.

    That said, I’ve never fought these battles from the parent side of the fence. You have 5 more kids and many more years of parenting experience than I do. So if my ideas are worthless, no offense taken in throwing them out. This is just worked on me when I was an incorrigible teen… Good luck!

  6. You are right. It is more of a double standard. I just hate when one of the kids realizes that I am the one who has created the double standard. Here in my house, I am known to say this house is not a democracy but a momocracy.

  7. Nikki,

    This is a huge issue for parents! My 11 year old nephew just set up a facebook account. I wasn’t totally happy with my sister about this, but I told him I’d be monitoring his page! There’s a lot of goon on the internet, but a ton of bad.


    1. Father Michael – My half sister just let me 9 and 7 year old niece and nephew get Facebook accounts. I was furious. She is not really monitoring them much either.

      It is hard as this is truly the first group of teens and pre-teens that have grown up with this temptation.

  8. i will definitely make it very clear up front with my kids that I’ll be watching how they spend their time on line. It will be no secret. I will treat it as any other safety issue that I’m sure will arise but it will take some trial and error since it will be so new to me (in that I didn’t deal with it when I was little). The internet and the world that comes with it is a SCARY place. I am a trusting person in nature but still, I know it is an unknown world with eyes watching every step of the way. I hope to teach my kids how to walk through it without scaring them or having them rebel against me!

    1. Kids will rebel against parents. This is hard because it is a “new” area for all of us. I have lots of friends who cannot believe I check what a 15 year old is doing online.

  9. My ten-year-old’s best friend has Facebook and friended me. I felt like I had to friend her so I could keep an eye on what she was doing, but I have cousins under the age of 20 who I just refuse to friend, though.

    For me, I just tell my daughter, “look, when I was your age, all this internet stuff really exploded and we all learned terrible lessons about privacy and predators. I made mistakes your grandparents were not equipped to prevent; lucky you, you’ve got me to help you understand your limits.”

    At least, that’s how it sounds in my head. How it sounds to her is probably more like, “We hate you and want to make your life as miserable as possible.”

    1. I worry about teachers who friend a lot of their students at the high school level. I realize that they could use this as a reinforcement of school work, another tool but not when they have just one personal account. If you are using it for work, get a second “work only” account.

      I do not friend some of my friends’ kids. I am friends with one or two but not all. I don’t post a lot of strange stuff but do not want to feel I have to censor myself.

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