Grown Up at 13

I wasn’t allowed to watch Boy Meets World when I was a kid because Cory and Topanga would occasionally kiss. I couldn’t have a computer in my room. If a song on my CD player had any explicit content, the CD was trashed and heaven forbid my mom walked in on me watching MTV.

I had it great compared to some of my friends. They had every non news or educational tv station blocked and their only current music source was the worst thing ever to be called “music.” You guessed it, Kidz Bop.

This was pretty typical for my age, being sheltered, parents sort of hovering, you likely had a similar experience if you were born in the 90’s. Back when the internet was thought to be a dark and scary place. Now we pretty much know it is.

Seeing and learning things on the internet made me grow up, and many of us experienced some “firsts” on the internet. Basically, everything that makes a movie rated R, I first saw on the internet. This made me realize the world is different than I thought. It’s good, bad, and everything beyond and in between.

I couldn’t even make my own breakfast at 12, now preteens and teenagers pretty much run the internet. That’s cool, but I can’t help but think they’re missing out on some stuff they can only get away with at that age. Without a device constantly in my hands, I knew kids in my neighborhood, we were active, I was a sponsored skateboarder at 13 by my local skateshop, I was a bit of a troublemaker but who wasn’t, I would “run away” when I was pissed off (only to return no more than an hour later) and I learned pretty much everything from older kids that I looked up to. You can’t get that kind of childhood on a computer.

Being a technology centered person, I love seeing my 11 month old niece playing games and learning to read on her iPad. I get to be the cool uncle and be friends with my younger cousins and nieces and nephews on social media and get a glimpse into the life of a kid/teen in this society. I was horrified at first, I didn’t find out about some of the stuff they partake in until I was well into high school, but it’s cool that I can say I have more in common with them than I thought. I look at it as a responsibility to keep them as safe as possible, knowing they’re going to make mistakes and possibly fuck up big time, maybe a few times before they’re my age, and possibly on a much bigger scale than when I was younger. The stakes are higher now. The kids are hanging with the big boys.

It’s awesome seeing teenagers have YouTube accounts with millions of subscribers and Snapchat with 1000 friends. Kids are growing up fast and taking control of technology. This is great, think of the future, computers have infinite possibilities, and kids are born with one in their hands. Still, it’s bittersweet being the last generation to play hopscotch and Bop It and spend hours playing the most dull board game ever, Candyland. Physical games are always better than their app counterpart. And we had some good games in our childhood. Give me a sunny day, my skateboard, a Simple Plan CD (don’t judge) and my remote controlled monster truck and you wouldn’t hear from me for a week. No one cared like they do today. No one was having the heartbreak of their life at 13 or getting addictions and disorders before they finish puberty. The internet opens you up to comparison, making you feel like you’re not good enough the way you are. No kid should feel this way. Then again, no one in general should.

Adults condemn technology for their kids growing up too fast because their kids aren’t present. If you’re hypnotized in front of a screen all day, time passes you by before you even look up. But social media is the new social. There’s the concept now of being “alone together.” This is friendship now. This is dating now. It’s not growing up too fast, it’s just living in a tech centered society. Make sure your kids know right from wrong, do what you can to make sure they’re good people, the rest is up to them. Let it be. Don’t be a stupid old person. We hate those. And don’t add your kids on social media unless you’re the absolute worst.

What do you guys think? Kids growing up fast, good or bad? How do you notice kids growing up quickly? Let’s talk about it.

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