The other night, after my hubby had gone to bed, the doll and I went into different rooms so as not to bother the other. I turned on Netflix and began searching for something to watch, while she disappeared into the kitchen (aka her art studio), to continue working on a sketch. Around 1 am, I stepped into the kitchen to remind her that bed time was coming soon and was interrupted by, “Mom, I’m on a conversation…” “Oh, Hi Natalia, Hi Ally…I began before adding, “Doll, tell your friends it’s time to start winding down,” I said. “Mom, they’re not here. You don’t know any of these girls…” She said. Giving her an odd look, I said, “Okay,” and then reiterated my previous statement, “Time to wind down…”
When the program I was watching came to an end, I loudly said toward the kitchen door, “Doll, it’s time to call it quits…” “Okay, Mom,” She replied and I could hear “Awwws” of disappointment come through he iPhone before she disconnected the call. When she entered the living room I asked, “Who were you talking to?” “One girl’s named Forest, the other’s name is Juniper–that’s not their real names mind you,” She smiled. “Who are they?” I asked. “You know that one artist I like?” She asked and I nodded, “Whenever she does live drawings, she opens a chat room so her fans can talk with one another. There are like four of us, who always complemented each other on their opinions and we decided to hold a Skype chat with one another…” She explained. “So, you’re talking with them over Skype?” I replied incredulously.”Mom, the camera is turned off as are my location services. But I can tell you one of the girls is in Australia, the other in California…” ‘And where do you say you’re from?” I asked. “They know I’m from Ohio… but I don’t use my real name–none of us do. We simply talk, no big deal”.
“I’m not so sure about that…” I muttered. “Honestly, Mom, I don’t see the harm. I mean you talk to people online all the time from all over the world and have had Skype chats with them…” “Yes, that’s true. The main difference being, I’m 52 and you’re 15,” I replied as she rolled her eyes. “I just keep thinking back to that time three year ago when you got so invested with a group of girls via PicCollage that when one said they were committing suicide, you…” I tried to explain but was interrupted, “I don’t want to talk about that. I mean seriously mom, I’m not as gullible now…” “I don’t know doll… fifteen is a vulnerable age and I’m not comfortable with this. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I don’t trust those I cannot see…” I tried. “But we keep the camera’s turned off for a reason…. try to think of this as I have a digital pen pal…” She suggested.
Thinking for a moment I said, “Okay, but, writing on a message board and getting to know someone over a long period of time, versus talking on Youtube for ten minutes before creating a Skype call is different…” I replied. “Mom, it didn’t happen quickly. I’ve been talking with them for about a month, before I joined the Skype call and like I said before, I don’t have the camera turned on and I don’t use my real name. Plus, all we’re doing is talking about art,” She said. “How often have you talked to them via Skype before?” I asked. “Once or twice before…” She replied. “I’d like a moratorium on Skype calls until I can figure out if they are indeed safe…” I replied. “I’ll still talk to them via the chat room…” She replied, a little defiance in her tone.
Taking a deep breath to clear my thoughts before answering, so my reply made sense to both of us, she stood there arms crossed about her chest, waiting for my reply. “Baby, you know when you’re my age and you have a fifteen year old, this stuff will look tame by comparison. You’re daughter will say, I’m going to talk with Forest or Juniper, then hop in the transporter and disappear for a few hours…” She smiled at the absurdity of my reply and relaxed. “Let me be a parent here? I trust you have a level head and you’re smart. But others aren’t trustworthy–which I hate to say, until you get to know them better. How about this….we compromise. The next time a Skype call comes up, you let me talk to the girls first…” She looked horrified for the briefest of moments before saying, “If this will make you feel better…?” I nodded in reply. “I’ll ask them next time we’re in the chat room together”. “Good… Goodnight, I love you…” I replied before she replied in kind, gave me a hug and we both disappeared into our bedrooms.
Being a parent in the digital age is not fun.