I was watching This Morning yesterday and something struck me quite hard.
They were talking about Sexting.
This instantly hit home to me as they were talking about young children doing this (from as young as 13!) and whilst many 13 year olds would find it offensive for me to call them a child, it is in fact the reality.
This day and age is completely different to 10 years ago. When I was 14 - I had one of them rubbish Nokia phones with snake on and now there's every possible app available at a touch of a screen (don't really have buttons anymore either!) and it scares me so much that, that 13 year old will be my Freddie in 9 years time.
I'm still over here trying to get over the fact he's turned 4 and starting school - let alone beginning to think that I will need to start talking of Safe Sex, Awareness online and Sexting. Whoa. In 9 years. It also scares me more at how everyone says "oh, the years fly past" - yeah, make that 9 years feel like 4, because it will.
They teach these things so young these days and does it actually glorify the facts as to make children interested? Curious to know what it's all about? A report suggests that 2 in 5 have sent a naked photo of themselves which is shocking. Whilst I wouldn't ever begin to think that sending one at any age would be very clever, as it can ruin lives after the initial rush of excitement in the moment; it breaks my heart to think my boys would do something so stupid. They probably will, they'll be young hormonal lads and I can see they will probably do many things I would frown upon. I hope that they grow to learn what would be appropriate to say and do - I'm really trying here!
In all honesty I think that's what gets to me, is the fact that we're slowly and surely preparing them to take their own intuition and apply it to their lives and it seems we've less and less years to get them there. We've less time to prepare, as when I think of when I was 13 - I probably didn't even know what sex was to be honest. I was young and I remember a time in middle school standing in the playground where my friends asked if I was a Virgin - I replied a very wary 'no?' because I didn't even know what it meant. Safe to say they laughed their heads off and I was left feeling very confused. We only really just started Sex Education at that time and they're now talking of girls as young as 11 being prescribed the pill. At 11 I was being taught not to speak to strangers still. See the dramatic difference?
Everything has advanced so quick, literally the last 15 years has gone mad. Everything is so easily available that I hate to imagine the next 15. It's Freddie's and Noah's generation; I'm worried what it's going to entail because it feels they grow too fast and I want them to grow up steadily like me (maybe a little less naïve) but I want them to have a chance to grow up intellectually and genuinely prepared for the world, because it's not a world for a child. It's such a dangerous world and it's so easy for young people to get sucked into a place they know so little about.
I want them to be a child and not feel the pressures of knowing everything when they're practically little humans - It's really sad, isn't it? That we've got young ones already in a adult world before they've learnt the alphabet properly. Everything is in such a rush to grow up.
I know in the years to come, I'm going to find it difficult to learn how to curb this growth rate as, already so many Children own an iPad and mobile at a really young age and I honestly don't want that for my boys. I can't actually afford an iPad for myself let alone one for the boys - they also don't know how to care for things like we do, at the moment they are little and I find it odd why they would be allowed to have such an expensive item to their name (I had a tamagotchi - now that was hard work keeping safe!) but I know as they get into school, it'll begin to happen. Their friends will have one, and birthdays, Christmas's will be about the gadgets and I don't know how I shall deal with that as on one hand, you don't feel they're ready to access such information (I know you can get kids ones that only allows apps) yet you don't want them to be the ones left behind. It's such a hard topic.
Many will think, "Oh you've got years to think about that" but really, times proven how quick it goes and I'm not sure I'm ready for them types of conversations - However, I know I will deal with them how I feel is right and I shall be very truthful and open, because in truth I don't want to be a hypocrite. I wanted my own phone (I literally hounded my parents for that Nokia!) and I went onto social media, talking to random people - whom most have continued to be some of my closest friends! I was stubborn and probably didn't listen to my parents at times but I always stopped where I felt uncomfortable, I never used webcam with people I didn't know and I was aware of knowing where the line was. I think mainly it was down to common sense and probably shyness.
I do think back on it now and it'd have been useful to have the Internet to look up 'What is a Virgin?' and for it to help with homework - we had a set of encyclopaedias on our bookshelf that helped with school projects, or we went to the library - it takes the work out of it which helps but also you're missing the experience and learning out of it. Them things taught us more than just the facts.
It's like when I was talking to my friend the other day who's a teacher, I was talking about Freddie's school and how lovely it was to have workbooks to flick through, where they stuck images of them playing and their writing was mounted wrongly on the page. Scribbles of handwriting next to pictures explaining what they were doing. It felt so good to hold a real scrapbook and see it, for real. Photo's are precious and I have a thousand on my laptop, but it doesn't beat ones that are printed off, to be held in real life. It was that moment where it felt like we haven't completely left for the online world. She replied "I'm surprised they're not doing it online like most other schools, it's so much quicker and less work for the teacher" and I thought, but I'm a parent. In all fairness I don't think as much for the teachers as I perhaps do for that book.
So Too much is online and yes it might be easier for teachers, it's a more genuine experience to walk into a school and see work there. I personally want more of that as a parent. I'm so glad that his school is a little old fashioned in that way.
But it's shocking how soon it'll change. I find these days with Freddie amazing, he's at an age where he's curious and asks so many questions and at times, very grown up questions that, does creep up on me how young they possibly might soak it up, but it seems wrong to be talking about it so young. It's such a generation shift.
I'm finding it really fascinating at how against I really feel, especially as a 24 year old - maybe it's my natural protectiveness. I don't want to lose that pureness as everyday we will see a little section of that innocence fly away, but I just hope I can teach them in a manner where I feel I've done a good enough job in getting them prepared. It's inevitable that the changes are happening tenfold, we've just got to find a way say it where they'll actually listen and respect it.