I am a mother of two girls, 9 and 5, and these viral sex scandals of minors really bother and affected me. I didn’t know exactly what to feel if I’d feel sorry for the parents for not being able to guide their children well, or these children who have dragged themselves into these kind of issues, unknowingly or unintended it may be, still they are minors and could’ve been extra careful not to be blackmailed or brainwashed by elders, which I am sure were responsible in spreading the video clips.
Just this year, I allowed and permitted my 9 y/o to have an access to some social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube with the conditions that:
1. Usage of gadgets are only allowed on weekends. I have been practicing this house rule eversince. To add to that, even TV is not allowed though at times, I give in provided they are done with their homeworks. On Friday nights, I give them their gadgets and collect them back on Sunday nights before bedtime. When the monster mom strikes in me, I leave the gadgets reachable but without the chargers. That happens when they violate my rules, to teach them lessons.
2. My 9 y/o is not aware of what email address was linked to her FB, and that includes the password. The email used and provided for her FB account is redirected to my personal email address, that also gets notified each time messages come in, plus linked to my mobile number in case someone else tries to get an access to it. That way, even if the messages in her FB are deleted intentionally so that I won’t see, copies are saved in my email. In some cases, when the children are aware that their parents check on their activities, they become more vigilant and alert in deleting evidences. Yes, I am one freaking paranoid mom if you say so haha!
3. My 9 y/o gets on FB through her mobile phone most of the time while the younger one watches YouTube on my tablet. Ooops! Please don’t judge me for giving my eldest a phone at a very young age. There is an explanation to that. Last year, in their previous school, the class was dismissed much earlier than expected and that happened when I was in Manila. A concerned fellow mom sent me an SMS saying that “Mitch your daughter has been waiting for an hour now, who is going to fetch her up?” And I panicked. I called my househelp but unfortunately she was not answering her phone. I was calling the teachers but to no avail. I called my mom but I guess it was too late coz I have already texted our transpo service and afraid that it might cause more confusion on who will fetch her. That same week, we bought her a phone and make sure that she has enough credits, that in case of emergency like this, she will be able to contact me. I was furious when that happened and told the school that “Inneexpect nyo na lahat ng nanay nakatambay sa school? Anong silbi ng mga pinagkukukuha nyong contact info ng mga magulang pag enrolment?!??”
Anyway, going back to her mobile phone, she surrenders the unit to me every afternoon. I also check the text messages and browse every app installed in it.
4. I have the control of her FB most of the time, checking on her added friends and delete whoever has no connection with her or doesn’t really need to connect with her.
5. At Grade 5, they already have an FB Group and that I cannot control anymore. What I can do is constantly remind her the dos and donts.
6. At a very young age, I discuss with them even the most sensitive issues that every girl should know. That way, they know when they are being fooled or blackmailed.
I believe that open communication is the best key to all of these. I am not a perfect parent but I try to be one darn good detective, if I have to. My husband is miles away and if anything happens to my girls, God forbid, I will be held responsible and that guilt could kill me forever.