Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Immediate Consequences and Technology

When I was a teenager, I screwed up all the time. That's what teenagers do. They're argumentative, impolite, and they don't listen to a word you say. That's their job. Your job is to catch them at it and make them suffer. It's a nice back and forth that keeps everyone happy.

The nice thing about being a teenager in the 80's and 90's, like I was, is that as long as you covered all your bases, you could get away with just about everything. A quick couple of notes passed in school to make sure that Friend X knew that if your mom called tonight, to say you were in the shower; or to ask Friend Y to unplug their kitchen phone so that all your dad heard when he tried to call to check up on you was a constant unanswered ring. It was simple, it was quick, and it was easy to keep track of.

The technology to catch your kids doing something they weren't allowed to do simply didn't exist. You couldn't put a GPS trace on your teenage son's phone and figure out where he was, and you couldn't phone your daughter's cell at 2 a.m. to make sure she was safe and sober. You couldn't monitor their conversations with their friends to check up on what they were doing and with whom. You actually had to be in the room to catch them red-handed at ANYTHING. Now, thanks to entities like Research in Motion, Microsoft, and Steve Jobs, you can bust your kids long distance. I love that I was born in an age where these options are available to me.

The downside here is that often, the actual technology causes the problem. When I was a teenager & wanted to complain to my friends about my mother, as long as I didn't do it within hearing distance of a responsible snitch (adult), I could get away with it. Not so today. The following is a series of text messages between myself and my son....

Isaiah: Can I go to the mall and then to a movie after school?
Me: No. You have been out every night this week. I want you home at 4.
Isaiah: Please. I will stay home every night this weekend.
Me: No. You need to do homework and you need to do chores. I want you home at 4.
Isaiah: Please???
Me: Just cause you keep asking does not mean I will change my mind.
Isaiah: Please? I will do the laundry this weekend.
Me: Now you're making me angry. Be home at 4.
Isaiah: What if I do my chores AND Liz's chores?
Me: If I have to tell you one more time to be home at 4, I will snap and you will be grounded till June.

(10 minute gap in conversation)

Me: Are you clear on the fact that you need to be home at 4? This is non-negotiable.
Isaiah: (In what he must have thought was a text to his girlfriend) OMG- my mother is pissing me off. She keeps repeating shit that she's already told me. And now I can't go out.
Me: I think that was meant for Polly.
Isaiah: Crap. Now I feel like an ass.

Nothing says 'immediate consequences' like Blackberry Messenger.

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