I have been computer literate for years, so when I had my children, each learned early how to use one and the rules of using the computer. First and most importantly, they were not allowed on the internet unless mom or dad were in the room. When the kids joined Facebook, there were new rules to follow and it all worked out well. Most importantly they were not allowed to ever chat with strangers online or meet anyone they spoke with online.
Years went by, and Twitter came about, which of course I joined (geek). The kids were older and were now lecturing me about chatting with strangers online. When I said I was going to a Tweet-up, they freaked on me. I explained I would be in a local restaurant thus a public place, and I would have my cell on me, they weren’t particularly pleased but finally gave their approval (I was 50 years old by the way, in their mind though age did not matter). All went well at the get-together, I met other moms in my city and basically we chatted about boring things. My next big step was attending a Blogging conference, where I met other bloggers from all over Canada.
So when I heard Sarah (the blogger behind Journeys of the Zoo) and her family would be in my area, I invited them to our house for a barbecue, my children were not very impressed. Middle child went so far as to post this on her Facebook page: mama bird is having some internet friends over for dinner….. I feel like this is turning into an episode of how to catch a predator. Now I had been chatting with Sarah on Twitter before I met her at the Blissdom Canada Social Media/Blogging Conference. We hit it off immediately, continued our relationship online, I added her to my snail mail Christmas list, and her lovely children mailed me a postcard from Mexico (it only took about two months for it to arrive). Basically Sarah was no longer a stranger to me, though she was to my family.
This past Sunday, Sarah and her family arrived for dinner, and we all immediately got along. Her children were amazingly adorable and well-behaved, her husband and brother were exceptionally polite guests but also humorous. It was a lovely visit all round, and I look forward to them dropping by again.
Note: You have to be very careful who you chat with on the internet, though that person may say they are the same age as you are, you cannot take this as true. Always meet in a public place, if possible bring a friend along with you. If you are underage, DO NOT meet up with people you chatted with and always talk to your parents please.
Parents: it is important that you know what your children are doing online; when our kids were young we had the computer in our living room, that way, we could easily monitor their activity. If you are not computer literate, look into taking a course, most libraries or community centres will offer free courses for adults.
Remember the online world can be fun but it can also be dangerous, so just be informed.