I’d like to have children one day, and I think that I, like most single people, have absolutely no clue what it takes to raise a child. I just kind of figure I’ll try my best to do it like my parents did. Sure, they weren’t perfect, but if my kids love me as much as I love my parents, then I figure I did good enough.
The problem is that I’ll be dealing with a gap of three decades (or more) during the most rapidly shifting technological climate in the history of man. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, online gaming and a host of world-shrinking tools are also creating a new venue of etiquette and morals that just didn’t have to be addressed when I was a kid. So here’s a few new lessons I’ll have to remember to teach if I’m responsible for raising healthy, happy, productive, ethical and super-attractive kid.
1. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers. The same goes for connections, circles, follows, links and anything else that sounds like a euphemism for “I’m a stalker/pedophile getting my foot in the digital door.”
2. Never go to YouTube without a specific video in mind.
3. Never watch another video when you are finished that specific video. That second video you watch is actually your first step down a slippery slope of apathy. Avoid it!
4. If you can’t say it on a public wall, it’s probably not something you should be saying at all.
5. When you say something on that public wall that you shouldn’t have been saying at all, I will comment, and it will not win you any cool points. If you want to make a public fool of yourself, then I’m going to publicly embarrass you for it. That’s being both a friend and a parent.
6. If someone has photographed you doing something stupid, untag it or delete it or have that person to take it down. Being “cool” in your youth isn’t worth being a “tool” when you grow up….and oh yeah, don’t do stupid stuff that you wouldn’t want someone taking a picture of.
6. No cell phones in the house. Seriously, dropping them in the Mobile Marsupial will be the first thing you do when you walk in (the ‘Mobile Marsupial’ will be a cute phone-pouching device that politely reminds you free yourself of your phone whenever said device is within 6 feet of said marsupial. Placing these beside doors in homes is going to be big for familial interaction…and my bank account).
7. No cell phone until you can drive. If I need to reach you before then, I’ll just call the adult whose care I left you in.
8. Yes, you have limited text messaging. Trust me, son. If you get a girlfriend, this “my parents only give me X number of texts” excuse will save your life.
9. Yes, you have limited minutes. Trust me, son. If you get a girlfriend, this “my parents only give me X number of minutes” excuse will save your life.
10. You can’t have internet on your phone. This will be good for you. No man ever lay on his death bed and said, “I wish I had spent more time staring at fake boobs on a tiny screen.”
11. Don’t snoop. It’s not worth it. You don’t need to know anyone’s passwords in order to trust them or treat them right.
12. Should you ever find out those passwords by accident (it happens), resist the temptation to do something intrusive or unethical with that knowledge, especially if you’re ever feeling hurt or vengeful.
13. Don’t make iTunes purchases after….actually, don’t waste your money on iTunes, there’s enough cheap/free music from apps like Slacker Radio and Pandora.
14. That said, if you love a band, support them and buy the freaking album.
15. I don’t care how annoying/perverted/toolish a person seems online. The Golden Rule isn’t confined to real-world interaction.
16. If MySpace is still around, just avoid it.
16. Don’t write a blog. You might have kids someday.
I wonder sometimes: how many of the lessons my parents gave me did they have to learn the hard way? Judging from my experience on the first 17 things I could think of in this column, I’ll bet it was an awful lot.