Saturday, 5 January 2013
Keeping up with the teen status!
Being a teenager is difficult. I would not be a teenager again for all the money in the world. Its a harsh time in anyone's life when you are desperate to fit in with your peers, worry about your looks and lack confidence. Actually sounds a bit like your forties too but anyway.............
Being a teenager with special needs continues to be a trying time for FD. She is desperately fighting for a little more independence and we are reluctantly having to give her some. She just wants to be like everyone else. She wants the usual things teens want. She has a mobile phone so she can phone me from her bedroom! She texts her dad and her cousins. She has no Internet access on her phone. She has an ipad, so she can play games on and only uses the apps provided.
The difficulty we are facing at the moment is that a lot of FD's friends have Facebook accounts and she is desperate to have one too. Even her school has a Facebook page! She doesn't know what she wants to put on it but she wants to be able to see what her classmates and fellow special Olympics athletes are saying. I think the main thing is she just wants to be able to say she has it! Its all a part of the fitting in thing. She sees every family member checking in with Facebook too!
FD has been asking for a Facebook account since last year and I have continually told her that she cannot have one. About 5 years ago FD was allowed to join the Disney community online and signed up for Club Penguin. I was not too concerned about this as it was extremely tightly moderated and was part of an online game. Unfortunately FD said something nasty to someone else online and she was banned from the site! Oh the shame! Being booted off a Disney site! FD was gutted. I was mortified and angry at her. I was however very pleased that the site saw fit to email me regarding the situation and make me aware of her behaviour. A hefty punishment was doled out and FD was not allowed any further Internet access and a lot of guilt from me as I was confident I had been monitoring it properly myself.
However, the old Internet debate has reared its ugly head in the form of the Facebook request from FD. I suppose in 5 years FD has matured and become more responsible but for me she is still a very special young lady who needs constant supervision. FD is aware that her younger step brother has been told he will be allowed Facebook next year when he is 13 and FD struggles to understand why he's being allowed it at a younger age than she is. Its a difficult dilemma for us as we don't want her to think she is not intelligent enough to be trusted online. She already recognises that she has certain limitations and struggles with this. She already recognises that she is not the same as other 14 year olds. She desperately struggles with this too. For FD, Facebook for her is simply a way to communicate with her friends. She is savvy enough to know that you can have an account from the age of 13! She will be 15 in May and finds our reasoning as to why she hasn't got one yet holding no argument whatsoever.
I have spoken with other special needs parents who have allowed their children to have Facebook accounts and all have said the same thing which is basically that in order to keep me from going insane with worry and ensuring her safety that I monitor the facebook account like a member of the Gestapo and put all the appropriate security measures in place. Its a no-brainer I suppose that as responsible parents we should all be doing this anyway. FD herself knows that IF and its a big IF we agree to her having a Facebook account, we will be checking it every single day and all friends requests will go through us. Sometimes its just not easy when your babies want to grow up! Big Superwoman knickers needed for this sort of decision making!
Posted by JB JOHNSTON at Saturday, January 05, 2013