Growing Up in 2019

Last week after lifting the twins from school they handed me a leaflet, I would say that nearly every school child in the North was given one.  It was the fact sheet about MOMO.  I had already heard about it but didn’t really have a clue about it.  Even after reading the sheet I still felt at a loss.  I looked it up on google and the details shocked me!!

The twins, especially the girl one, was petrified about MOMO and was viewing it as an actual person and no matter what I told her about it being a “cartoon” etc it wasn’t working as someone in the playground said that when you see it it tells you to stick a knife in the toaster or slit your neck.  We had a disturbed nights sleep after that one.  Now imagine being 6 and being faced with this info that a scary person comes out at you after using You Tube.  It is enough to give you nightmares.

To be honest it really freaked me out but to make matters frigging worse the next morning all over the news was details that instagram is now the most popular platform for groomers of young children.   “Children as young as five years old are being targeted for grooming on Instagram where attempts have more than tripled”, the NPCC has warned.

To say I near had a canary is an understatement.  I left completely overwhelmed, anxious, out of my depth, ‘stupid’.  My eldest will be a teenager this year (ah schuks away with you I know I don’t look old enough) but I am frightened for what the future holds for her.

However it got me thinking it is hard being a parent in these technological times….. imagine being a child, tween, teen…….

When we were kids who did we compare ourselves to, our siblings, our cousins, our friends.  Now with social media they can compare themselves to anyone, the world has become minute.

I sometimes find it hard not to compare myself to other people on social media.  I have to take a step back and with an adult perception, reevaluate the situation and realise that people only show you what they want, that it is a fickle world and TBH most are only in it for their own gains.

But what if you are a hormone riddled teen and you see these Amazing You Tubers who have t all.  Many of these “Stars” seem to be from wealthy backgrounds and seem to be given a free rein in life, sometimes doing stunts that endanger theirs and others lives.  It can be a very difficult thing to differentiate reality and ‘make believe’ for our kids and even though they might know things aren’t real, its a bit like, if it is on a screen it must be true!!!

When I was a kid if we had issues with someone it was a bit of a shouting match in the playground and then silence for a day or so.  Then someone would break the silence asking if they wanted a game of “Cross the Golden River”/ Chinese Skipping/ smoke behind the mobiles! All done.  All over.  Maybe a wee laugh over why we fell out

Now if there are issues it continues over a social media platform, this is the bit that I don’t get my head around that there is no break away from friends/ school many things when our kids get home.  Its funny kids now have accessibility to friends that they have made in every aspect of their lives.  Now don’t get me wrong yes we all have mates who we made through that different stages in our lives but we have realised that not all stay with you but now through social media they do.  It’s harder for kids to realise who true friends are but I know this comes with time and maturity.

This is just based on me but I look at my Niamh who is 12.  She loves her make-up, straightening her hair (which I don’t allow but she rebels) and is obsessed with her eye brows. .  I first noticed I HAD eyebrows let alone do anything about them when I was 18.  I remember putting a slick of mascara and lippie on to go up the town in First Year with Siobhan O’Neill and I was near killed by me da.  Now it is the norm,  don’t get me wrong she is not allowed out contoured within an inch of her life but if we are heading out she is allowed a little bit of slap on.  Growing up a tad too young.

At this age, during the Summer months, I would have packed a bag and jumped on my Turquoise Raleigh BMX style bike at 9am with a group of friends and you ‘ have seen me until dinner time that evening.  Would I let her do it now… hell NO!!

Even doing homework is so different.  Obviously mine was based on what we learnt that day or what we could find in the encyclopedias rather than google.  I remember getting a word processor in University and thought I was epic!

Another thing that I feel is very evident now is the competition between parents,  the kids must be involved in everything, have everything, be the best!!.  When Niamh was a younger I had to have her in everything but quickly I took a step back and realised that they need to do what they are happy at.  All it does is create anxiety and stress being involved in absolutely everything – and it shows in both the parents and the child.

It’s funny as she has moved quickly into this technological era and into the “Big School”  its “what phone” people have,  I’m going to find my old Nokia and hand her that and tell her its ‘Vintage’.  But the pressure parents put on themselves – financially and mentally is ridiculous as will they be any happier with the next I Phone – probably not!.  My young lady knows that I don’t give in to this crap and will receive our hand me downs until she is 18 and can buy her own bloody Iphone at £800 – like seriously !!

It is a very confusing world out there now – it fecking confuses the bejesus out of me!  This week we have saw the debate as to whether or not trans gender people should compete in sport within their new identity etc. Now don’t get me wrong I am all for people being happy regardless of what sex they are, who they love, whether they are gender neutral, what they want to do with themselves etc.  It is such a difference from the 80’s were we were all male or female.  But here that is another debate……

When I think back to my teens and Uni life I am glad that phones and social media were not a thing.   There were many wild nights out or stupid things that I did that I am glad was never splashed out there for the world to see.  I have the hard copies, the good oul fashioned photos, to prove these events lol.  But now they have to be so careful what goes up as it can affect future jobs, university places as when it is out there these things have a habit of raising their ugly heads at inopportune moments – just ask Jack Maynard.

I would hate to be a teen growing up here but even more so I would hate to be a teen or have a teen in City Life in England.  There is a gang mentality there that I hope will not venture here and the number of stabbings in England since the start of the year is 27 – horrific and many of them were teens.  The drug culture is now at epidemic levels.  I was speaking to a lady who was in a bathroom in Belfast and people were openly using heroin.  Hard drugs were never something that was so rife or common as it is now – well not that I remember, but that could be a naive thing from me.

It is hard being a parent in these unpredictable times, I suppose every era has its pros and cons.   It is a time when people can flourish and be the best they can without the same prejudices as 20 years ago and for that I am glad.

Social Media can be used for good it has definitely helped in my business but it has to be an open and honest portrayal as this is when the falseness sets in. Then the comparisons and eventually could let to mental health issues to many of our tweens and teens.   It is a scary world that our kids are growing up in but all we can do is teach them the best we can and as we learn pass the lessons on to them.   And most importantly as parents support and help each other as it is a learning curve for us all and unfortunately we don’t have our own parents to fall back on as this is a completely new era.



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