Thursday, September 3, 2009


Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a newcomer to the cyber-universe and it's moving at such a pace, I struggle to keep up. I mastered my MySpace just in time for Facebook to become the place where cool cyber-beings hang. Now I'm trying even trying to Tweet.

But what really has me flummoxed is the use of cyber-shortcuts--acronymns that have me scratching my head. Of course, once I figure them out, they make so much sense and my daughter thinks I'm cool when I IM (instant message) her. She was quite proud of how tech-saavy I'm becoming when I ended our conversation with TTYS (Talk to you soon). When I used it with my DH(dear husband), he thought it meant "Ta-Ta, You Stud!" Guess I won't try to tell him different.

Then there's LOL(laugh out loud), ROFL(rolling on floor laughing), and the more graphic ROFLMAO(rolling on floor laughing my a** off) and two of my daughter's favs, IDK (I don't know) and KWIM (Know what I mean?).

In fact, there's a whole secret universe of acronymns out there. And a good many of them are used by teenagers to keep their parents clueless.

Now, that's ok. I understand that parents suffer from IQ deprivation until their kids turn 21 and a little rebellion is good for self-actualization and all. But the internet can be a dangerous place.

So when I was researching this post and ran into a site that taught teens how to signal when their parents were watching or that the coast was clear, or ways to ask for nude pics of each other or to give their age/sex/and LOCATION(!), I started to think acronymns stink. Who needs shortcuts to disaster?

I know some people think there's a disconnect here. I write pretty hot romance, but I write for adults. I'm not in favor of underage sex. I remember being totally flumoxed when I was taking some grad school courses a few years ago with a bunch of middle school teachers and I couldn't get them to agree that it was A GOOD THING FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLERS NOT TO HAVE SEX! They didn't want to impose their values on the kids.

Excuse me. We impose our values on them all the time. And we should. You wouldn't let your kid play with a lit stick of dynamite. Why feel you can't tell them to wait for something as emotionally, physically, and spiritually explosive as sex?

And don't get me started on how easy texting, sexting and the rest of the internet have made life easier for pedophiles. It's all FMTYEWTK (Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know).

Wow, I didn't set out to make this a rant. Sorry. But protecting young people is something I feel passionate about. I had intended to ask you to share your favorite internet acronymns. Now I just want to know if you think I'm crazy. I'm glad my kids are grown. If yours aren't, how do you protect them from too much, too soon?


Nynke said...

Hi Emily,

of course I don't think you're crazy! But I do wonder what you regard as 'underage'. I guess middle schoolers - what age are they? 14? - strike me as really rather young to be having sex as well, but the most important thing, I think, is that anybody should only ever do it when they are sure they want to, with someone they really like, and *use protection*!

Of course, one issue is, how sure can a teenager be, especially if they feel peer-pressured into something they otherwise might not feel ready for?

I'm glad none of that ever happened to me when I grew up - but then, I don't think anybody could've tricked me into it if IM and the like had been around 15 years ago. And I thank my mom for passing on her level-headed values to me :). I think I'll try teach my future children, if I ever get any, about trusting your instincts as well as about some basic biological facts and the importance of condoms. Knowledge is power!

Wow, this is a long reply - I guess it's a topic that attracts strong feelings ;)

EmilyBryan said...

I met a bookseller a couple years ago who was wishing more YA authors would encourage girls to view themselves as having more worth. She was particularly upset by a new trend in her daughters' group where a game of SPIN THE BOTTLE turned out not to result in a kiss, but a BJ.

FYI, middle-schoolers are grades 6-8 so they are 12-14-ish. In the US, the age of consent is 18, which I know is higher than in Europe.

Heather D said...

Hi Emily,
You are definitely not crazy! My daughter just turned 14 and it scares the hell out of me! She is a very beautiful (and I'm not saying it because she's my daughter) and outgoing teen. I was a month shy of my 19th birthday when I had her. I have always been extremely open and blunt with her. We started having the birds and the bees talks when she was 10, 5th grade! An open line of communication is the key to every relationship whether it be your husband or your kids. If you can't talk to your kids, if you are embarrassed (my mom was) to have the talks with them then you are failing them (in my eyes). I know teens want what they want and we don't know anything but if you don't talk and teach them then they will make those bad decisions.

My daughter just got her cell back after making a bad decision. She says she doesn't understand how I can be one of the coolest moms but still end up being more strict than all the others. Her friends love to come over here. I even get visits and phone calls from them when she is visiting her dad in Michigan. That is another big ticket item... knowing their friends. And I am not afraid to snoop through the text messages, myspace and facebook. I haven't done it in a while, but Michaela knows that to have my trust she has to earn it. She recently lost said trust and now she has to make some adjustments to life... like no one, not even her best friend, is allowed over when I am not home. She will not be spending the night at her friends house for a while.

Internet--- we stress not giving out personal information, not befriending people you don't know, etc.

Sex--Open line of communication. Stressing that she really needs to wait until she is much older, that sex brings complications that she is not quite ready for. If she feels like the guy she is dating is the right one, please come talk to me so we can make sure you are protected. And hopefully I can talk her out of it! lol I have requested, yes I asked my daughter to at least wait until she was a Junior in High school. Longer would be better. I have told her absolutely no babies!!! And I always talk about my struggles as a single mom at 19. College first then babies. I can only hope and pray that she keeps her level head and makes the right decision when it comes to all of the dangers in the world.

I scream abstinence but also teach prtotection!!

Heather D said...

Oh Emily, that is a first! I have not heard of the new version of spin the bottle!!

I can only hope that all the germ discussions we have had in the past will deter that one!! You know the ones where you tell them "You are not just kissing him, you are kissing every other girl he has ever kissed as well" Michaela is some what of a germaphobe. She won't go to the movie theater unless she is wearing jeans-- she has heard the stories of what teens do in those seats.

EmilyBryan said...

Heather, it sounds like you've got the matter well in hand. And you're so right. Communication is the key.

My DH and I poured ourselves into our kids when they were small and when they went through their teens, they still talked to us. Even when we didn't like what they had to say, it was a huge victory.

OMGosh! Jeans for me at the movies now too!

EmilyBryan said...

After my rant about sexting and sending nude pics electronically, my DH reminded me that I gave him a nude pic of myself as a joke when we were dating in college.

Of course, in the photo, I was 6 months old sitting in a washtub in my Grandmother's front yard with a furious frown on my chubby little face.

Patricia Barraclough said...

Agree with you 100%. Life is getting so much more complicated for our children every day. I work in a small county library and try to have a good selection of books for the kids. However, you can't keep them in the age appropriate sections. I had a 4th grader checking out Vampire Academy because his brother liked it. Fine, but his brother is in 9th grade not 4th. Parents don't always give good guidance. I had a girl, maybe a 9th or 10th grader come up with an armload of steamy romance novels. Her mom was with her. I asked her mom if she knew how explicit the books were and she said yes. There are some good YA romances out there that are much more appropriate for girls her age.
There is no policy that prevents them from getting the books. We do have a computer policy that blocks all chat sites (facebook, etc.). Patrons need a staff over ride to access the site and you must be 18 for the over ride. If the parent is there with them, someone under 18 can get an over ride. I can't believe how upset some parents are that kids don't have free access to these sites. They have forgotten what parenting means. It is work and takes effort.

EmilyBryan said...

Pat, I guess we can't protect kids forever. My first encounter with graphic sexual content was at a teacher's urging. It was John Updike's Rabbit Run, part of a "college bound classics" list for a contemporary lit class. I was a pretty naive junior in HS and had no idea oral sex even existed.

I'd have much rather read a good YA at the time.